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Digital learning lab opens at Troy Boys & Girls Clubs

Children view the new digital equipment at the Boys & Girls Clubs Troy clubhouse
Lucas Willard

A new learning lab in Troy will provide children and teens access to state-of-the-art equipment and help develop skills in computers and technology.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area’s Troy clubhouse has a newly renovated digital learning center.

Seven new computer workstations, a digital projector, and desks are located in the new lab, with colorful carpeting.

Justin Reuter, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Capital Area, spoke at a press conference with local officials Wednesday.

“As you can see, we have a nice new learning lab, fresh technology, new equipment. This is going to be available to our students in our after-school program, our team members, and our community members to come in and use,” said Reuter.

Home to pre-kindergarten, summer camp and after-school programs, the Troy clubhouse serves about 50 children and 75 teens each day. In addition to providing a space for recreation and exercise, the clubhouse hosts programs to develop skills in technology, such as coding and app development.

“There’s a lot of different resources just with our workforce development program. Kids are using the computer to mess around with Excel, they’re using it to write a resume, just different things they might not be able to do at home,” said Reuter.

The new digital learning lab is supported through $50,000 from AT&T. Kristin Duffy, director of external affairs, said the company has made investments in similar facilities around the state.

“COVID really kind of laid bare the really that kids didn’t have access to services or devices so AT&T made a commitment at that point to open six different learning labs across the state,” said Duffy.

The Troy clubhouse is steps away from the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden says he wants the clubhouse to help young people develop the skills they need to work in the local tech economy. Troy is home to a handful of video game development studios.

“We want our kids to be full participants in the economy as they grow up. I want them to be able to stay here. I want them to be able to land the jobs that Warner Bros. and Velan Studios and others are bringing to our community. I want them to be able to study at RPI,” said Madden.

State Assemblyman John McDonald, a fellow Democrat, says it can help bridge the digital divide.

“At the state we focus on broadband, right? You know, $500 million supposed to help connect everybody, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen. It doesn’t happen, obviously, in the Adirondacks, sometimes it doesn’t happen in the neighborhoods, in particular, those of low to moderate means. So this is a great opportunity but just as importantly, I think about the fact that these little digital learners will start to build this trade and there will be great opportunities ahead of them,” said McDonald.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.