The National Urban Technology Center, or Urban Tech, was founded as a non-profit in 1995 to address the achievement gap between privileged communities and poor urban communities nationwide. Urban Tech’s initial focus was to provide access to technology education and training for under-served communities. Its earliest initiative established 500 computer training centers in 45 states over 6 years, and was supported by the US Department of Justice.
Over the past 16 years, Urban Tech has shifted its focus from brick-and-mortar computer centers to research-based social and emotional learning (SEL) curricula to support underprivileged classrooms, which may not have the time or resources to emphasize SEL without aid. The latest Executive Principal Leadership Institute furthers this goal by enabling principals in underprivileged districts – through participation in intensive 18-month training programs – to create space for growth, inspiration, and hope in their schools.
Urban Tech began work on its Dignity for All (DFA) program in 2016 to align with the Every Student Succeeds Act, with plans to publish a curriculum in the coming months. The program aims to combat bullying by creating a deeper understanding of its definition, emphasizing the importance of empathy in changing attitudes, and creating safe and supportive communities. These methods support DFA’s primary mission of minimizing bullying incidents by raising awareness, helping students develop reaction alternatives, and promoting positive interactions.
At its 22nd Anniversary Gala on June 14, Urban Tech will have the honor of recognizing three leaders whose careers embody the organization’s spirit. Vicki Fuller, Chief Investment Officer of New York State’s Common Retirement Fund, has been named one of the most powerful African Americans on Wall Street by Black Enterprise. Valerie Jarrett was the longest serving Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, and chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls. Don Lowery, Senior V.P. of Corporate Reputation and Public Affairs at Nielsen, ensures the company’s panels and surveys accurately represent national and local populations through committed outreach to diverse communities.
The Gala will be chaired by Vernon Jordan, a lawyer and champion of the Civil Rights Movement who was chosen by President Bill Clinton as a close advisor. Mr. Jordan has dedicated his career to fighting for equity, equality, and justice, and for years has supported Urban Tech’s mission of bringing technology education and the opportunity of choice to under-served communities.
These outstanding figures inspire their communities through their immense success, commitment, and constant diligence. They embody the philosophy – a cornerstone of Urban Tech – that equal treatment and equitable opportunity are uncompromisable elements of the American education system. Urban Tech and its supporters fundamentally believe that no child should be placed on a track to second-class citizenship by segregation or systemic injustice, and that geography must not dictate a child’s chance at a brighter future.