Lutheran Social Services (LSS) of Northern California has been working to address this issue by providing housing and other tools — such as job training, mental health support, and education — to ensure that these youth have a stable future. As part of these efforts, they’ve teamed up with Community Tech Network. In past years, CTN has taught LSS youth how to do things like build a resume, search for jobs online, and create spreadsheets. Gaining these digital skills helped many of the young people gain meaningful employment.
For the first time ever, CTN recently offered a cohort of LSS learners one of our brand-new trainings: a course on Canva, a program used for graphic design as well as photo and video editing. CTN’s Jessica Pasquarello, who taught the classes, says: “Nowadays, young people aren’t just using social media to post cute pictures of themselves. They’re using it to launch their careers. For example, if you make music, you can get noticed by producers by having a strong social media presence. If you create art or jewelry, you can sell it on sites like Instagram. If you post YouTube videos talking about one of your passions, you can earn extra income through advertisements. And these are just a few examples. But what’s really great about using social media is that it’s equal opportunity. Regardless of your education level or background, you can bring your business ideas to life through social media sites. Using tools like Canva allows folks to publish more professional-looking content and really gives them a leg up.”
Some of the students were in fact already using social media in professional ways. One learner had an Instagram page highlighting his cooking skills, and several other students frequently created YouTube videos. They were all excited to take their skills to the next level with Canva. Says one learner, Raven: “This class was great. It was so helpful. At first, we (the students) were all a little shy, but we got comfortable with each other, and it was a great team-building activity. I really want to keep using Canva now and getting better at editing videos with it.” Another learner, Tarrique, adds: “I didn’t know anything about Canva before this digital literacy class. I very much enjoyed learning here. You have to fall in love with the process just as much as the rewards.”
CTN tried to make the class as relevant to the students as possible. Says Jessica: “I got to know the students and tried to tailor the class to their needs, ambitions, interests, and skill levels. For instance, when I assigned projects, I encouraged the students to create content that they would actually use in their real lives. During the first class, after learning graphic design basics, the students created party invitations. They were so excited! Some of them included animations in their designs and just really had fun with it. Another one of my favorite moments was during the photo editing class. One of the students loved his creation so much that he immediately posted it on his Instagram page!”
These young people all have immense talent. CTN hopes they can apply the skills that they learned to continue advancing in their personal and professional development.
*Note: The photo included in this blog post is a meme that one of the students, Tarrique, created upon completing the course. He wrote “DL” to refer to “digital literacy,” and the shoutout to “JP” is to his teacher, Jess Pasquarello.