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May 9, 2016

The Salvation Army Partners with Target on New Digital Learning Program

Life skills for young people in the digital age.

The Salvation Army launched its Digital Learning Program in March to empower youth and communities with critical life skills in areas such as financial literacy, digital preparedness, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) readiness, health and wellness and diversity and inclusion.

Developed in partnership with the retail firm Target, which has a strong commitment to supporting communities, and with the education technology company EverFi, the online program offers engaging, dynamic and interactive content. Through a grant provided by Target, The Salvation Army added more than 1,700 new computers and accessibility upgrades to allow as many children as possible to access the program.

The program includes eight different courses for kids in grades K-12. All learning courses contain guided activities, interactive gaming simulations and content with real-world applications.

“Each year, we work with more than 250,000 kids in a variety of programs across the country, helping them overcome obstacles posed by poverty so they can unlock their potential,” said Lt. Colonel Ron Busroe, the Army’s secretary for National Community Relations and Development. “Feedback from pilot testing has been overwhelmingly positive, and the program is already resonating in the communities that we serve. In fact, parents of kids involved are coming to see the program in action and express interest in taking part themselves.”

“Digital education is a powerful tool that can address skill deficiencies that put huge pressures on families and can keep young people from realizing their full potential,” said EverFi CEO Tom Davidson. “We are grateful to Target and The Salvation Army for their dedication to closing the critical skills gap in youth and are honored to power this national program.”

A survey from the pilot program showed a 58% knowledge gain among young participants, as calculated by the learning software. “I knew absolutely nothing about money or technology, and ignored the fact that I would someday have to learn about it,” said one participant. “And I have learned the importance of safeguarding my family’s safety by being aware of alerts and dangers on digital devices.”

“This is the most valuable program we’ve offered our youth in years,” said Patrice Holt, program coordinator for The Salvation Army’s Bellwood Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta. She points out that hope is an abstract phenomenon for the children in communities with high poverty and crime. This new learning program gives them something tangible to be hopeful about for both them and their families.

“This place has been a safe haven for kids since 1929, where kids can come and act like children and learn and have fun at the same time” says Charlie Smith, unit director for the Bellwood Boys and Girls Club. “If it wasn’t for this club in this community, no telling where our boys and girls might be.”


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