Carleton University-run not-for-profit Virtual Ventures has teamed up with tech company Amdocs to adapt its regular technology and engineering programming to the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic.
In regular times, Virtual Ventures delivers tech-based afterschool programs and summer camps to Ottawa youth. Since the pandemic hit Ottawa in March, Virtual Ventures has been pivoting and innovating to continue to deliver learning opportunities for youth in new and fresh ways. In lieu of their regular summer camps, the team developed take-home kits—available to families for a small fee—to allow kids to engage in skill-developing activities from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
Thanks to a generous $5,000 sponsorship from Amdocs, Virtual Ventures has been able to produce an increasing number of take-home camp kits and provide bursaries to lower income families.
“I am thankful that my son was able to receive a kit this summer,” says an anonymous parent of a bursary recipient. “It kept him busy during these trying times and aligned well with his ever-growing interest in engineering. It gave my son a lot of joy to be able to participate in the experiments.”
The bursaries, says Virtual Ventures director Christine Riddell, are critical in order to provide these programs and learning opportunities to families that could not otherwise afford it.
“We’re also aware that this is a challenging time financially for so many, so we wanted to make the kits as affordable as possible for everyone,” she explains. “Generous sponsorship from our partner organizations, like Amdocs, has allowed us to do just that. We’re so thankful to Amdocs for the difference that their contributions make in the lives of these kids.”
Amdocs and Carleton have a longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship based upon shared values of diversity and excellence in engineering.
Throughout the years, Amdocs—which ‘uses creativity and technology to build a better-connected world’—has regularly attended Carleton career fairs and related events, successfully hiring skilled and driven Carleton students. In 2018, the company sponsored the Faculty of Engineering and Design’s Diversity in Engineering and Technology Networking Evening. And in late 2019, Amdocs connected with Carleton to discuss how it could support youth learning and engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“Amdocs Ottawa employees have always been very passionate about giving back to our community, particularly when it involves supporting kids’ activities—so, we jumped at the chance to work with Carleton University’s Virtual Ventures earlier this year,” explains Geoffrey Dudding, director of software services at Amdocs. “The take-home kit initiative fit perfectly with our values and offered us a rewarding opportunity to support our community during a challenging time.”
The organization is excited and honoured, adds Dudding, to sponsor a program that offers opportunities for kids to be exposed to technology and engineering. “We are proud to be a part of this program, and to have a chance to encourage potential future engineers to follow the path we chose and the careers we love,” he says.
According to testimonials received from kit recipients, the program—including the adjusted at-home format—is setting Ottawa youth up to do just that.
“I’m so glad to get the chance to put my kids in this program—they both learn so much,” says an anonymous parent of a program participant. “[My kids] have already started designing games with Unity, a [3D development platform]. We are so thankful to Virtual Ventures!”
At the Hub for Good, read more partnership stories, explore opportunities to get involved and learn how Carleton University makes an impact around the world.