$10,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation put to good use at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence Counter Makerspace Lab

BEDFORD – The AT&T Foundation contributed $10,000 to the Lawrence County Economic Growth Council (LCEGC) in 2021 which has enabled the nonprofit to partner with the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County on overcoming learning loss and closing the digital divide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From left: Shance Sizemore, Bill Soards, Frank Decker, Vic Makximenko, and Joe Timbrook

This grant comes in part of AT&T’s announced nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide and homework gap and is committing more than $2 billion over the next 3 years to bridge the digital divide through affordable broadband.

This commitment offers both consumers and education institutions, as well as high-quality educational resources, a program to connect students to skills, resources, and opportunities for success in school and life.

Bill Soards, president, of AT&T Indiana looking at some of the equipment in the Makerspace Lab

Bill Soards, president, of AT&T Indiana was able to come to the Teen Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence County to see the Makerspace Lab and some of the items the students have been making and imagining Tuesday afternoon, something he wanted to see for himself.

“This Makerspace Lab is the second-best use of a gymnasium in the State of Indiana. AT&T has a lot of catching up to do in terms of offering the best option for kids to be engaged in learning,” said Soards. “I have seen a lot of Makerspace Labs and STEM learning areas in other Boys & Girls Clubs, but this one takes the cake.”

Bill Soards and Vic Makximenko discussing what the students have completed so far

Having to come by and see the lab for himself, Bill Soards made it a point of emphasis to praise the club and Frank Decker for putting the lab together, and Vic Makximenko for his teaching efforts.

“It offers a great chance for hand-on learning daily for students and is such a blessing for to the community to have the means to use this equipment and the great teaching from the club and Mr. Makximenko,” Soards said.

Frank Decker and Bill Soards in discussion about the impressive room together

The summer program that was started in 2021 with this donation was a great vehicle in showing families how communities can connect by building on their curiosity.

“The pandemic changed how students learn, how parents help, and how communities connect,” said Boys & Girls Club Chief Professional Officer Frank Decker. “That’s what made our summer program so effective – it allowed members to take their projects home to encourage curiosity within their families, and ideally it evolves into future projects as well.”

Lawrence County Economic Growth Council CEO Shance Sizemore

Lawrence County Economic Growth Council CEO Shance Sizemore said having the opportunity to provide this space to the youth is an incredible way to move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Being able to act as a passthrough to offer this opportunity to the children of Lawrence County is truly incredible. Being able to offer an outlet to some of these kids and to use their brains in other ways,” Sizemore said. “The pandemic put a negative impact on the ways that children can learn, and it is important to work together to minimize and mitigate the impact by offering this equipment.”