Hamilton, Richardson Launch Second ‘Campus’ In Crown Heights


About a year after launching the country’s first his tech training ground and public wellness site in public housing, State Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, South Slope, Sunset Park) and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights, Lefferts Gardens) on Friday expanded “the Campus” to Crown Heights.

State Sen. Jesse Hamilton

Like the first “Campus,” which Hamilton opened last March in Brownsville’s Howard Houses, the new one at Crown Heights’ M.S. 61 Dr. Gladstone H. Atwell school, 400 Empire Boulevard, will offer coding, and computer classes as well as yoga and poetry classes to Brooklyn youth.

The initiative aims to bring technology, wellness, entrepreneurship and cultural programming to Brooklyn middle school students. The program will offer in-school classes in a variety of disciplines with an emphasis on computer science. Coding and computer classes will be offered through the Digital Girl organization.

“This extension in Crown Heights of computer technology, which all kids should  have in school because you can make $80,000 dollars a year with a high school diploma and coding and so we want to encourage our kids to code and this is a great day for our kids who are enthusiastic about coding and learning,” said Hamilton, who prior to becoming a state senator served as School Board President in Crown Heights for eight years.

Assembly Member Diana Richardson

Richardson said her hope is to empower students through the program by giving them an opportunity to explore career options in computer programming and coding. The Campus well also enable these students to be competitive candidates in the growing technology field.

“Statistics show that young men and women of color are not in the engineering field at the numbers that they should be, they are not in the technology field in the way that they should be and a lot of that has to deal with early exposure. Having that open access to technology and the ability to learn from experts across the city, there’s a man here from Kingsborough [Community] College with a STEM lab. These type of opportunities are opportunities that if The Campus wasn’t here, these youth wouldn’t have,” said Richardson.

Besides the Howard Houses, “The Campus” launched last October in two Brownsville schools, P.S. 298 and the Brownsville Collaborative Middle School. The program will also be available to the community and any youth looking to learn more about computer sciences.

According to Forbes one of the top in-demand jobs for 2017 is engineered, specifically in the field of technology.

Lawmakers believe that middle school is the best time to target students when it comes to the program because that is when students start making important decisions about their future and can be easily influenced by positive and negative opportunities.

“Middle school is a transition period because of the ‘middle passage’, this is when kids realize what they don’t know. We’re trying to focus on middle school to say hey, even if you have a deficiency in a certain subject matter, we’re here to let you know that we are here to help you. If you catch them in middle school, they’re more likely to go on to high school and college,” said Hamilton.

Other organizations in partnership with The Campus are Green Earth Poets Cafe, Urban Asanas Yoga Studio. S.O.S. Crown Heights, Global Trauma Research at Haitian American Community Coalition (GTR HCC), Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, and Seeds in the Middle.