Mike Larson, Senior Vice President of Operations: Essentia Health
Ara Anderson, Assistant Principal: Deer River High School, Instructional Technology: Deer River Schools, Co-District Assessment Coordinator: Deer River Schools
Kayleen Montacelli: Boys & Girls Club Unit Director, Community Ed. Programmer
Despite being a home to many with a high-quality life, Deer River is also home to many families and individuals continue to struggle with Deer River’s long-standing inequities, which are geographic, racial, and economic in nature.
Discussion among a grassroots group of Deer River residents, educators, and partners in collaboration with Smart North recognized that in the post-pandemic world, more and more people can work remotely. From this came the proposal of Community Tech Hubs. Community Tech Hubs will serve as a joyous, welcoming, and inclusive environment where youth can develop new skills, and find support and inspiration. This vision is based around digital literacy as a tool to build greater equity across demographics, communities, and geographies. This tech hub is made possible through our community Circle of Care partners, as well as a grant from TC Energy.
This provides a means to change the story for Deer River youth by providing them with tech/occupational education, as well as services that may be offered by any other community center. The community tech center will offer programs to teach and impassion students about digital skills. In any given program, youths can learn programming, cyber security, augmented virtual reality, Web 3, drone piloting, and artificial intelligence. They can also learn to use technology in art, creative projects, and 3D design.
Beyond developing skills around technology, Tech Hubs also connect students with resources for mentoring, apprenticeships, portfolio development, and resume writing. Youths are also provided with holistic support for barriers and struggles they face as individuals with unique circumstances. They are provided with access to food pantries, mental health resources, clothing, and transportation assistance.