Helping Atlanta Students ‘See Technology as a Tool,’ Not Just Entertainment

with Faith Porter of Raising Expectations

A belief that children will live up to the expectations set for them is the inspiration for Atlanta-based Raising Expectations. Faith Porter, Director of Programs, sat down with Dara Brown at Net Inclusion 2024 in Philadelphia to discuss how — through after-school programs and mentorship — they are using technology and digital skills training to help underserved youth get on a path to success.

Of the program, Porter says, “Our students have an opportunity to learn about
computational thinking, about presentation software, in the hopes that they will see technology as a tool rather than just as a source of entertainment.”

Posted on:

March 29, 2024

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Brown: Technology has raised the bar for what's possible, but are communities and children prepared to meet raised expectations? Hello. I'm Dara Brown, and this is "Getting Connected" powered by "Comcast Newsmakers." We're here today at the Net Inclusion 2024 Conference in Philadelphia. I'm joined by Faith Porter. She is Director of Programs at Raising Expectations. Faith, thank you so much for being here.

Porter: Thank you, Dara.

Brown: Your organization is called Raising Expectations. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Porter: Yes, absolutely. So, we were started in 1995 by two Georgia State students who did not really have an idea exactly what they wanted to do, but knew that they wanted to give back to the community in which they attended school. So, they started by reaching out to local parents, seeing if their students needed homework help in the afternoon and getting the agreement of the parents to bring their children to local public libraries where they got homework help from our two cofounders. Many, many years later, 28 years later, we're a 501(c)(3) organization that has served children and their families in the west and southwest sides of Atlanta for the past 20 years.

Brown: And how are you empowering students and bridging the digital divide?

Porter: So, our empowerment of students mainly happens in the after-school program space. We have two main programs, one for our middle school students, the other for our high schoolers. In Project Dream, our middle school program, in addition to homework help and mentorship from local college students, our students receive basic digital literacy skills training there. We have a one-to-one device ratio. Our students have an opportunity to learn about computational thinking, about presentation software in the hopes that they will see technology as a tool rather than just as a source of entertainment. The same happens in our high school space as well.

Brown: You work with others like Inspiredu. Can you talk a little about the collaboration?

Porter: Yes, absolutely. So, this summer, Inspiredu and Raising Expectations were both the beneficiaries of support from Comcast to start the Connect 404 Digital Navigators Program. This operated at Raising Expectations through Youth Work, which is our paid summer program for high school students and recent graduates. And, in partnership with Inspiredu, our 15 navigators had an opportunity to be trained in digital skills, they had a chance to refurbish technology, as well as get out into the community doing canvassing and speaking to community residents at career service fairs.

Brown: Faith, can you share one of the success stories?

Porter: Sure. So, success is often achieved through support over time of our students and their families. One of the best examples is one of our board members who is a graduate of Raising Expectations. She received our support through middle and high school, during which time she and her family were experiencing housing instability. She talks about having to couch surf during that time. But with the support of Raising Expectations, she went on to college, she graduated. She currently works for a major credit bureau in Atlanta and is poised to purchase her first home.

Brown: Faith Porter, thank you so much for your time today.

Porter: Thank you.

Brown: And thanks to you as well for watching. For more conversations about digital equity and broadband expansion, visit I'm Dara Brown. ♪♪ ♪♪

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