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Combating the cycle of poverty with C4K

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Showcasing our community initiatives and involvement across our Ting Towns.

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Did you know that youth from low-income households and communities are at a greater risk of living in poverty as adults?

These youth often have a more difficult time graduating high school and often aren’t as likely as middle class youth to attend college. This phenomenon is sometimes called the “cycle of poverty,” where, once a set of events or factors have set poverty into motion, theses circumstances are unlikely to change, even across generations. That is, unless there is some form of outside intervention.

We as a community can help stop the cycle, and local Charlottesville nonprofit Computers4Kids (C4K) works every day to combat poverty in the community. Just ask Kala Somerville, Executive Director at C4K.

“Our mission is to build skills for life success in middle and high school youth by engaging in hands-on projects in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”


C4K seeks to improve and enrich the lives of youth through mentoring and technology with out-of-school time programming, including one-to-one mentorships, skill-building opportunities and college and career experiences. C4K is all about preparing today’s youth for a bright future.

“C4K uses access to professional technologies and positive relationship as catalysts for youth to follow their interests, become engaged in learning and realize greater possibilities at home, at school and in our community.”

The history of C4K and the mentoring program

Founded in 2001, C4K is active in Charlottesville and Albemarle county. In these areas, 17 percent of families do not earn enough to pay for the essentials of life like food, shelter, clothing and utilities (Charlottesville Works Orange Dot Update 2017).

“Through no fault of their own, youth who grow up in impoverished families are at greater risk of living in poverty as adults, have a harder time graduating high school on time and may not be as likely as their middle class peers to attend college.”

Since its inception, C4K has provided free, year-round, one-to-one and group mentoring to students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch programs at school. C4K matches youth with community volunteer mentors for at least one hour per week for about a year. C4K mentoring provides a safe and creative out-of-school learning environment where youth build college and work readiness skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).  


The results of the C4K mentor programs are indisputable. In 2003, the mentoring program at C4K was evaluated by UVA and found to have a significant positive impact on youth who participate in the programming. In 2014, C4K earned full partner status with Virginia Mentoring Partnership, which is a validation of high quality mentor programming. In 2017, C4K was invited to join in The National Quality Mentoring System, which provides a process for “assessing and assuring the quality of a mentoring program’s practices.”

The Clubhouse Network

In addition to C4K’s one-to-one mentor studio, C4K has a drop-in makerspace, called Clubhouse. Clubhouse is full of tools and resources, including an audio studio, video lab and green room, electronics equipment, power tools, iPads, computers, 3D printers, vinyl cutters, t-shirt presses, the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, 3D animation software and much more.


C4K members can attend Clubhouse while they wait to be matched with a mentor. C4K is a member of The Clubhouse Network, which gives them access to socially innovative programming and a set of industry best practices.

C4K students can join in on hands-on activities in STEAM exploration and discovery. Natural mentoring is common at C4K, and students often meet their mentor while they’re working on STEAM projects in Clubhouse.

You can take a virtual tour of the C4K makerspace Clubhouse here!

Ting Works

Ting gigabit at C4K

When Ting arrived in Cville and got to know C4K and the important work the organization does, we made sure to offer them free gigabit service.

“We felt valued to be championed by Ting as an important member of the Charlottesville community.”

High speed, reliable Internet and great support helps C4K run without a hitch. Not only does gigabit help C4K with their programming but also with their everyday business needs. Staff and volunteers can collaborate on multiple youth development projects at the same time, research funding opportunities, share stories on social media and communicate with colleagues, volunteers, funders, collaborators and the community at large.


Members make use of gigabit Internet every day. Big video files are uploaded and downloaded in an instant. Students can draw, model and design in 3D using programs that require web browsers and cloud platforms are used for music creation and sharing.

The educational potential of the Internet is harnessed in full force at C4K and students can use Ting gigabit to watch video tutorials, start online business websites, create and curate YouTube channels, create online portfolios, design and build video games online and discover how to do anything through research. C4K alumni also use Ting gigabit to apply for jobs and colleges and create and print resumes.C4K

“We believe it takes a village to raise a child. C4K is made of a diverse community, connected physically and digitally: at C4K, each member, mentor, brother, sister, alum, volunteer, family, staff member, community partner, guidance counselor, teacher, local business and donor is is part of that village. Ting helps us connect! Ting is part of C4K’s story!”

Take a look at the C4K Annual Showcase 2017 recap and discover some of the projects youth got up to.