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Seventy students who successfully graduate LIT, are gifted a free computer

More than ever children need adequate technology and leadership development. Not too long ago, a child’s computer was mostly just fun. Now, this is a must!

With that in mind, AT&T, Western New York, United, and Mission Ignite have teamed up to support the WNY United Leadership in Training Public School Program (LIT), with funding from AT&T, to give each of their students a computer.

The 70 students who successfully graduated were given a free computer, helping to bridge the digital divide while closing the homework gap. WNY United’s Leaders in Training Summer Program is designed to help under-resourced students from four regional school districts stay connected. The computers were donated to local tech nonprofit, Mission: Ignite, made possible by support from AT&T and Digitunity.

The LIT Program focuses on leadership and life skill development, as well as learning about substance use prevention. Participants are in the program for two years, committing to seminars and community service learning projects. This year’s Leaders in Training program includes students from Buffalo Public Schools and students from Maryvale, Frontier, and Lake Shore School Districts.

“What a great day to be a LIT Student! WNY United is thrilled to partner with Mission Ignite and AT&T to provide this amazing opportunity for our LIT students,” said Beth Anzalone, Executive Director of WNY United. “Providing computers for all of our eligible participants and their families helps bridge the technology gap for our community.”

“Our commitment to reducing the digital divide and homework gap includes ensuring students have the connectivity, knowledge, and devices critical to success,” said Kevin Hanna, Director of External Affairs at AT&T. “Through our work with Digitunity and Mission: Ignite, we can help thousands of underserved students and their families across WNY access free computers and training resources that matter for success in online learning.”

“It takes collaboration to make things possible for our communities,” said Christine Carr-Barmasse, Executive Director of Mission: Ignite. “As a longtime summer partner of WNY United, Mission: Ignite is honored to help invest in students preparing for their future by providing each student from this graduating class with a computer for their use at home, which we know will help them continue learning.”

LIT Students shared their excitement about the donation.

“What you can do with a computer is great because you are limited when you have things in your pocket. We only have iPads and cellphones at home,” said Albert Huang, a student at LIT. “I want to learn more about editing movies, and this computer will help.”

“I am very excited. I can do research for computer science projects,” said Adam Budniewski, a LIT student. “I want to research and learn about the world because I want to travel the world when I grow up.”

AT&T digital equity initiative working with Digitunity selected Mission: Ignite as part of a national 10-city project to provide 2,000 refurbished computers over a two-year period to students and families throughout Western New York.

“The excitement in the room was palpable, as students walked around the room and looked at the boxes on their computers,” said Aaron Ianello, Mission Ignite Operations Director. “One thing is for sure, students know they need technology to succeed.”

Top photo: At Lorraine Elementary – left side: Lori Brown, Aaron Jones, Adam Budniewski, Aubrey Russillo, Tara Contrath, Albert Huang, Isabella Smukall. Right side: Lorinda Sekanvich and Samantha Shaul, Sharon Richardson, Aniyah Horn, Tierney Thompson, Crystal Sorrell, NauJalinna Mitchell, Elliott Mook

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