Hear Our Voices is a Demonstration initiative that links twenty Clubhouses from the Computer Clubhouse Network in creating new opportunities specifically for girls and young women, to develop fluency with computer technology, and to learn valuable career and life skills as well. Hear Our Voices will serve as a model for the future in other Computer Clubhouses in the Network, as well as like-minded informal educational programs for girls and young women at other institutions.
Founded at the Computer Museum in Boston in 1993, the Computer Clubhouse has grown into a Network of 48 Clubhouses in 13 states and the District of Columbia, plus 11 Clubhouses overseas, touching the lives of thousands of young people. The Computer Clubhouses provide a successful, innovative, andempowering after-school learning environment for young people (ages 8-18) from underserved communities. A safe and welcoming milieu, skilled and caring mentors, and high-end hardware and professional software tools help Clubhouse youth become confident learners through a variety of creative computer applications.
The flagship Computer Clubhouse moved to the Museum of Science in 1999, when the Computer Museum joined forces with the Museum of Science. Since then, the Network of Clubhouses has grown rapidly; with the support of Intel Corporation and other sponsors, more Clubhouses are now being planned and implemented. Based on community interest and the success of the Clubhouse learning model in transforming young people's lives, current plans call for growth to more than 100 Clubhouses by 2004. Located primarily in youth-serving organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs and Urban Leagues, Computer Clubhouses serve inner-city neighborhoods as well as smaller communities with a high proportion of under-served populations. The Computer Clubhouse community is diverse, made up of African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, recent immigrants, and Whites.
In an effort to recruit and retain more girls and young women in a field that has a dearth of participation by women -computer technology - the flagship Computer Clubhouse in Boston since 1995 has pioneered several programs especially for girls, providing them with access to rich technology resources, female mentors and role models, a community of peers, and a positive, creative, and supportive learning environment. The new Hear Our Voices program will significantly expand the flagship Clubhouse's programming for girls and young women, to 20 new venues and with new, locally-designed programming. Specifically, it will enrich opportunities for girls in four ways:
*Twenty of the Computer Clubhouses within the United States will receive funding and support to hire and train staff dedicated to gender equity and girls programming, and to launch locally-based Hear Our Voices programs at their Clubhouses, including at least one component of girls-only hours or days at each participating Clubhouse. *Leveraging the experience gained at the flagship Computer Clubhouse, Network staff from the Museum of Science will provide professional development and program assistance for girls'programming to Clubhouse Coordinators across the Network. *Building on the momentum and resources of the growing Clubhouse Network, a digital network called the Clubhouse Village will support both a real and a virtual community of Clubhouse youth. An area on the Village will be designated especially for girls' activities, and the Village will also support interaction among staff and mentors for mutual support and for sharing best practices. The Clubhouse Village will consist of a secure, private Intranet, using Internet technology and tools to enable Clubhouse youth to communicate with each other and collaborate on creative projects. *The virtual community will be made more viable by a face-to-face gathering of participating youth and staff at a Computer Clubhouse Youth Summit in the summer of 2004.