Brianna Crone-Roberts had a special interest in the three-day College Bound Computer Camp where foster youth received free computer laptops donated by the Riverside Optimist Club through the Riverside County Office of Education.
“As a former foster youth student, I know that for many students in the system this may be the only opportunity to obtain a laptop computer,” said Crone-Roberts, now serving with the Department of Public Social Services helping other foster youth through the program. “It’s really hard because computers are expensive and they may not the finances to obtain one. It’s a big deal if you are a junior or senior going on to college.”
Crone-Roberts used her free laptop and went on to attend Riverside Community College and Cal State San Bernardino. “The laptop I obtained is the one I used through my four years (of college).”
Students who attend the camp are taught how to use the computers and programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, said Tom Arthur, president of the Optimist Club foundation that makes a $25,000 donation toward buying laptops.
“It’s wonderful to see the kids at the camp, how they interact with instructors, hearing the quality of questions they ask, and then watching them get to use the laptops at the end,” said Arthur. “They are clearly learning a great deal, including personal growth and personal finance, not just computers. This helps when they go on to college or the next stage of their lives. It gives them the knowledge that will help them be successful.”
The College Bound Computer Camp is held in November for qualified foster youth who reside in Riverside County. The camp this year was held at Citrus Hill High School, part of the Val Verde Unified School District.
Students had a busy schedule of instruction in goal setting, financial literacy, time management, and use of applications. One student stated, “The staff absolutely cared and made it very simple.”
Students also receive instruction in financial management, learning how to balance a checkbook, how to read the fine print in a lease agreement, and how to manage money and avoid using credit as their favorite subjects. Also at the camp, were representatives from community partners Smooth Transition Inc., Citrus Hill High School, and the Riverside County Department of Social Services.
To be accepted to the camp, students are required to submit an application, include a 250-word personal statement regarding their career and educational goals, a written referral from a social worker, probation officer or educator, prove they reside in Riverside County, be a current foster youth, and maintain a minimum of a 2.0 grade point average.