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YOUTH RADIO Digital Divide Site Visit Survey Questions:

Introduction: please tell this to your organization contact at the visit, to remind them why you are there and the purpose of the meeting:

"OpenOakland a voluntary collaboration of tech, community and city government whose main goal is to increase civic engagement thru technology. OpenOakland recognizes that there is a large segment of Oakland with low access to technology, particularly low-income people of color and youth. A sub-committee was formed to address digital divide experienced by residents of Oakland and explore ways to make an impact.

The Digital Divide group has made the decision to not re-invent the wheel, but to connect organizations already doing great work. Many agencies are putting on awesome programs, in a vacuum, when it could be of great value to share and collaborate on projects in order to reach the maximum amount of the population and to share ideas. The OpenOakland Digital Divide group would like to be a hub for such organizations.

We have come here to learn more about your organization, the work you are doing to address the digital divide, and see if you are interested in joining us!"

..Start asking the questions after you have had a ‘tour’ and can sit down with your Organization representative. (If possible).

QUESTIONS: Organization - Youth Radio

Organization Contact - Kurt Collins

What's your role in the organization?

Tech Strategist/Lead Developer. Career development. Teaches Coding to high school students.

Who (groups and communities) does your organization serve? How many are youth? How do you outreach to those communities? Target Community: Bay area youth between the ages 14-25. Most of them are from the East Bay but some come from San Francisco. Economically diverse, pretty evenly distributed persons of color.

What is your service / what do you provide for the community you serve?

In general: Training youth to be able to get into a media or digital related career or to further their education. Training in broadcast journalism, radio, video, music and web production.

Digital Divide Specific: Upon arrival kids are taught basic computer and media skills in order to progress to the different categories.

How is your organization addressing the issue of access to technology in Oakland? What is your overall goal? How do you work to achieve that goal day to day?

Overall goal is career and youth development. Partnering youth with professionals.

What technologies / apps are you currently using? What do you use to outreach about these technologies? To socially network online and offline? To spread information? To solve problems?

Kurts class is developing apps to solve basic problems. For example, they are trying to create and online-app to help visitors/employee’s sign-in to the building. Currently using way too much paper. They are also thinking of building HTML forms, and building large scale systems.

No mention of Social Media, but Youth Radio does of a Facebook (985 Likes) and Twitter (over 3,000 followers) presence.

What kinds of technologies are being used by the people you serve? What do they do to civically engage? To socially network online and offline? To spread information? To solve problems? Do you record their use of technology prior to being a part of their program?

Youth Radio doesn’t really track their technology usage upon arrival (just overtime as they pass through core programs), but by mere observation, all of the children usually have some kind of smart phones. Some of them have laptops. However, he feels they don’t know how to use all of the apps that are available to them, nor do they understand how the apps work. He doesnt’ feel that they are confident enough to experiment. They don’t know how to use their phone for engagement/advocacy.

Some popular apps they use: Snap Chat, or Kik-Online, Youtube and Instagram.

Asked of they have a hunger for tech knowledge? Nope. They have to guide them towards learning technology. It is a challenge to get them motivated.

What happens to your clients after they have completed your programs?

The youth generally stay in the program for 2 years. Some often stay and continue working for Youth Radio full time, once they have gone through the program, and help with recruitment or financial development.

They haven’t done any official tracking. In general, 97% graduate from high school (it’s a requirement that they be in school while at Youth Radio, but there is no grade requirement). 73% continue on to college.

Most of the students want to become a music producer or a rapper.

What is your source of funding?

Youth Radio gets funding from foundations and corporate clients. Some clients, like Kaiser Permanente, contract with Youth Radio for youth to produce product for them.

They operate on about $2 million a year.

Youth Radio, however hasn’t been able to produce much of a profit. That’s something they are trying to work on.

Visit here for a list of their supporters:

What resources do you wish you had access to day to day?

Funding. Specifically do projects that aren’t specifically tied to what funder want them to do.

Youth Radio is now what you would call a ‘safe space’ for youth. Where they can learn things and share their opinions without judgement. However, would like to push them into the realistic space. Where they learn what it is like in the real world.

It’s one thing to for them to learn technology amongst their peers, it’s another thing for them to be ready to work for a tech company. They need to learn real world skills, like networking, or completing deadlines, etc. Youth Radio doesn’t have the capacity to do that kind of training so far.

What kinds of data do you see as important for residents / community members to have instantly available to them?

Kurt would like to see residents just have a basic understand of how a computer works. What’s a directory and how do you make one? If you understand how a computer is built and how it works, then everything else would make sense.

(Coder’s dream).

What would you need in order to effectively achieve your mission?

Kurt feels they need the capacity to take their training to the real world. Have them end up with a job at the end of their tenure at Youth Radio. Have them exposed to the tech culture on a piece by piece basis. Would like more resources to produce programs that generates revenue.

The youth puts together 3,500 articles of content and they don’t get paid.

What are some of the potential barriers to success for the your organization?

Youth Radio is a successful program as it is. However, a barrier for any youth development program is restricted funding. Sponsors want you to spend their $500 K a certain way..difficult to deviate from that.

What other sorts of organizations / projects are you working with or are you hoping to collaborate with?

Currently working with Kaiser Permanente. Hoping to do more with Pandora.

  • Also.. Voxpop- an application where youth can ask questions and get audio answers
  • Forage City
  • Develop a Youth Election Center for the next federal elections.

What would you like to see included in a central repository / directory of resources pertaining to access to technology in Oakland?


Would you be interested in being a part of a Digital Divide HUB?

Would have to ask if Youth Radio would want to be part of this kind of Hub. (Youth Radio doesn’t see itself as a tech organization, but a journalism org).

Kurt himself would like to be a part.

Would you be interested in joining our Digital Divide Team? GREAT!! Invite them to come to the next meeting. :)

Invited Kurt to the next Thursday meeting (May 9th). Tuesday he has a conflict.