With its SEEDTECH Program, founded in 1995, Urban Tech focused on providing underrepresented populations living in poverty with the technology and leadership skills they needed to build better futures for themselves and their families. Through SEEDTECH, juvenile offenders transitioned from a life of crime to academic achievement and community service, and senior citizens became trainers in SEEDTECH centers to provide intergenerational support to young people.In 2000, Urban Tech launched the Youth Leadership Academy ® (YLA) to provide students in those same communities with social and emotional skills to improve personal growth and leadership. YLA has trained 600,000 students in afterschool programs through NYCHA, and in 500 schools across the country.
A pilot study of YLA found a 26% increase in attendance rates, 46% increase in reading scores, 40% increase in math scores, and a 67% increase in graduation rates after introducing the curriculum, as well as increases in self-esteem, self-efficacy, and pro-social behaviors.
Through YLA’s comprehensive professional development programs, faculty have reported significant improvements, including increased awareness of students’ social-emotional needs, effective technology platforms for teaching these skills, and improved life and leadership skills. Additionally, YLA’s family engagement focus facilitated better relationships between and among administrators, faculty, parents and families.