During the 2011-2012 school year, Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) USA recruited, trained and deployed 106 young, local professionals as TeachUp! Technology Interns in public schools, libraries, community centers and job centers across northwest Mississippi and in the Mississippi Delta. These interns served 13 counties in the Mississippi Delta, helping to improve the digital literacy and computer skills of over 50,000 students and 3,000 teachers. They also helped clients of WIN Job Centers utilize technology to prepare for and secure better paying jobs. By the time the TeachUp! Interns completed their service year, they were qualified for high paying jobs in the technology field as well as other sectors of today's technology-driven workforce.
Digital Opportunity Trust USA was created in 2006 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as an effort to help public schools in South Mississippi and Louisiana recover from the resulting devastation. In the past six years DOT USA has expanded to the Mississippi Delta, serving citizens of challenged communities. "It has been our goal since the beginning," states Deanna Stewart, Program Director of DOT USA, "to not only empower students and teachers in at-risk communities to gain vital 21st century skills, but also to create internship opportunities for Mississippi and Louisiana natives and develop them professionally to succeed in a technology driven workforce."
DOT USA TeachUp! Interns have gone on to gainful employment as teachers, social workers, IT consultants and human resources representatives. Many of them say that without the knowledge, experience and networking they gained from their hands-on workforce experience, they would not be in the place they are now. "I became more self-sufficient, more responsible and a lot more tech-savvy through the TeachUp! Program," said Vanessa Eshmon, a TeachUp! alumnus who served at Em Boyd Elementary in Greenville, Miss. and is now employed by Greenville Public School District.
Since the TeachUp! Program began, it has served over 400 Mississippi and Louisiana public schools, empowering more than 16,000 teachers to use 21st century technology to create engaging and interactive classroom lessons for almost 500,000 students. It has expanded throughout the state, including Washington, Bolivar, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Yazoo, Marshall, Holmes, Claiborne, Leflore and Lafayette Counties in the Mississippi Delta as well as to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Louisiana. DOT USA aims to continue growing to new regions and communities in the Mississippi Delta through partnerships with local foundations and government agencies.