CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A summer camp happening at Johnson C. Smith University is offering students a brighter future. This is the third year for Kennedy Charter School's summer program and it's the first year girls were allowed.
The program is focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The students are also getting knowledge in SCRATCH, Lego Robotics and Python programming languages.
This type of education is designed to set kids up for success.
"Technology is going to drive in the next twenty years," Program Director Corey Carter said. "Almost every job field sector in this country, in this world - why not have some kids look like me and can adapt."
Carter is an African American and was in foster care all his life. He graduated from college with a degree in Information Systems. He wants to let the students know they can beat the odds and be successful. He has a message for young people who think they can't make it.
"Hope that we can motivate other people to do the same," Carter said. "Don't really care about what's happening to you before in life - just focus on your true passion."
Carter wants the students to think about engineering as a career. He believes if the kids are exposed to this high level of work at an early age, then the pipeline for future engineers will be diverse. The hope is that by introducing students to this work, they can lead successful jobs and earn a good living.
"Everybody won't be a programmer," Carter said, "But there's going to be so many tech jobs, why can't we introduce and inspire them in those jobs and those fields?"
College student Jahdiel Couchman agrees. He recently graduated from Phillip O. Berry Academy and is a tutor with the summer camp. He is off to college in the fall to major in computers. Couchman believes this summer camp will make a difference for the students.
"A lot of them are talking about wanting to be a football player, rapper and things like that," Couchman said. "But what we are trying to teach them is that they need a back-up plan - that just can't have that as a focus."
The college student hopes more minority students will go into engineering.
"We can't have the media creating who we are," Couchman said. "We need to show who we are through programs like these."
This program is for third, fifth and eighth graders. About 60 students are participating. A $1.65 million grant from William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust helped make the camp a reality.
The organizers say the program is working. They say some graduates of the program are now going to college and thinking about engineering as a career.