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Friday, March 01, 2013

Google Award to Fund Computer, Science Education in Haiti

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3L Michael Nguyen working with students in Haiti helping them learn the 21st Century Chalkboard Project software

UC Hastings is honored to have the 21st Century Chalkboard Project, a project of the UC Hastings College of the Law’s Hastings-to-Haiti Partnership, chosen as a 2013 Google RISE award recipient. The award provides grants to selected organizations around the globe to support learning in computer science and STEM. This year, out of a pool of more than 800 applicants, Google chose thirty organizations from eighteen countries around the world as RISE grant recipients.

The 21st Century Chalkboard Project began after a 2009 Hastings-to-Haiti Partnership (“HHP”) trip to the École Supérieure Catholique de Droit de Jérémie (“ESCDROJ”), UC Hastings’ partner law school in Jérémie, Haiti. During that voyage, members of the group visited several primary and secondary schools in the rural area of Jérémie. The dearth of educational resources in those schools prompted a then middle-school student who was traveling with the group, David Rathmann-Bloch, to create the 21st Century Chalkboard Project. His project aims to help young people who were born into poverty in Haiti gain access to educational resources. To do this, the project designs and programs interactive educational software modules, which are then translated into Creole, and provides these software modules on donated, and often recycled, computers directly to educators, schools, students, and youth programs in Haiti.

Along with extraordinary partners in Haiti, like law school Dean Dr. Jomanas Eustache and ESCDROJ graduate Roxane Dimanche, and in the U.S., HHP members have played crucial roles in the implementation of the project. In addition to carrying donated computers loaded with the educational software modules from San Francisco to Jérémie, HHP students have worked directly with Haitian primary and secondary school students to help them access and learn to use the computers and software. Under the auspices of many mentors, including Professors Blaine Bookey, Richard Boswell, and Karen Musalo, the 21st Century Chalkboard Project offers a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach that seeks to improve lives in some of the poorest communities in the Americas. With Google’s generous support and guidance, the project hopes to both expand its library of educational modules and to bring educational resources in Creole to many more young people in Haiti.

For this grant, support was provided by the Google K-12 Education Outreach Fund of Tides Foundation.

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