Youth Center Celebrates Black History Month Connecting African Village with America

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Community technology center initiative to establish Internet access for youth and local communities in Benin, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa.

The Benjamin E. Mays National Educational Resource Center will celebrate Black History month connecting Black youth in America to those in Accra, Ghana, as members of the Atlanta based technology center travel to Africa in February for the opening of the first of four EcoCyberCenters.

The EcoCyberCenter Project is a community technology center initiative establishing Internet access for youth and local communities in Benin, Ghana, Senegal and South Africa. The project, which launched recently during the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Switzerland, will link the African centers via the Internet to centers in Boston, New York, Washington, DC and Atlanta.

“Black history month is a time when we consciously re-connect with our African heritage,” said Ben Mays executive director Felicia Davis. “This project will enable youth of African descent from five different countries to learn and work collaboratively. Our environmental focus will empower youth to understand and impact problems such as pollution, energy, consumption and waste,” she adds.

In addition to providing computers and connectivity, the project will focus on environmental education and advocacy. Participants will complete an online environmental curriculum that includes topics such as pollution, water quality, and climate change.

“Our goal is to empower women and youth to impact environmental policy at the local level and to inspire environmental stewardship,” says Ree Lott, Ben Mays board member.

Through collaboration with the Lowery Institute at Clark-Atlanta University the project will also conduct a student exchange with American youth visiting Africa and African youth visiting the US. All of the youth will meet in Washington, DC in July and will participate in the SCLC WOMEN Heritage Tour through the south.

Partners in Africa include: ENDA, Friends of the Earth-Ghana, Lamontville High School-Durban, South Africa and the Girls School-Cotonou, Benin. US partners: Lowery Institute-Clark Atlanta University, MLK Center/Dubois Institute-Harvard University, Africa Futures Forum-Howard University, CTCNET, Friends of the Earth US, Redefining Progress and DogonVillage.com.

“We received initial funding from the US EPA and USAID/EDDI initiative, however, to ensure sustainability, we are aggressively seeking additional funding for the project,” said Melvin Morris, Ben Mays program director.

The Ben Mays Center is a non-profit educational advocacy organization committed to stewardship and universal access to technology, global education and sustainable development.

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