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Compassion and Computers

December 17, 2020 Author: Tom Havrilla Tags: Academics , Business and Communications , Community Engagement and Outreach , Stories of Resilience , University News

Sarai Westbrook, 10, of Blairsville, works on a laptop computer at Flood City Youth Fitness Academy, which opened its virtual learning center downtown on Tuesday, Dec, 1, 2020.
Photo by John Rucosky, The Tribune Democrat
The fullest and most far-reaching expression of the mission of Saint Francis University are the Franciscan values which were lived by its founding brothers. Humbleness, respect, and service are just a few of the Goals of Franciscan Higher Education.

These goals reach well beyond the comfy confines of Loretto and extend to the surrounding community.

Recently, Saint Francis University donated over a dozen laptop computers to the Flood City Youth Fitness Academy’s virtual learning center, a charitable organization serving the needs of children and their families living in the Johnstown area.

We sat down with Dr. Randy Frye, Dean of the Shields School of Business, to learn more.

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What is the Flood City Youth Fitness Academy and what do they do?

They started as an after-school tutoring center for K-12 students from the Johnstown area, particularly the Greater Johnstown School District.  It is owned and operated by Oscar Cashaw and Deacon Jeffrey Wilson. Jack Babich, an alumnus of the Saint Francis University Master of Human Resource Management program and recently retired AmeriServ senior vice president, was also involved with fundraising for the Academy. 

How has their program changed due to many schools going remote?

During the Fall with the Pandemic forcing many students to transition into virtual learning experiences, the Flood City Youth Fitness Academy saw an immediate gap in educational access and opportunity for K-12 students. It realized that it needed to expand its programming and services into the daylight hours in order to provide its clients with needed access to virtual learning information technology and the Internet.

Many of the clients served by the Center do not have reliable internet service. In many cases, they also lack reliable computers and a learning support system at home as they try to participate in virtual learning. The Center has the space, they have the teachers, but they didn't have the technology.

How did SFU help the center with this technology crisis?
Saint Francis University, AmeriServ Financial, and Wessel & Company, CPAs, donated 35 fully-equipped computer stations for the Academy’s new computer lab. Students now have access to computers and the Internet, as well as tutors, to assist them with their virtual learning needs and school work. The aim is to keep students in school and engaged in productive learning and achieving success.

The Shields School of Business believes that business schools and universities ought to be forces of good in the community and saw an immediate need and opportunity to reduce inequalities relative to educational opportunity and access to needed educational technology.

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This is just one of many examples of how Saint Francis University is helping those in the community become the person that they want to be. 

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