Brooklyn Park Couple Create Computer Training Program at Zanewood Rec Center
Minnesota has one of the worst racial achievement gaps in the country. But there are efforts to change that. Case in point: a Brooklyn Park couple who live by the motto, “If Not Me, Then Who.”
“We lived here, we raised our children here. We want to help the youth that are in this area to give them a chance to be successful in life,” said Cindy Hill, who co-founded the Brooklyn Park-based nonprofit Minnesota CHILL Foundation with her husband, Chuck Hill.
The Minnesota CHILL Foundation aims to provide area youth with computer skills training. Those skills range from learning how to build a computer to making software upgrades. The training would take place at the new CHILL Tech Computer Lab inside the Zanewood Recreation Center.
“One of the things we want to do is introduce students to the various roles that different personnel have in the IT area. But the focus will be more on the maintenance of the hardware and ability to upgrade software,” said Chuck Hill, chair of the Minnesota CHILL Foundation. “We feel that is a skillset that is much needed in the community.”
The Hills started an IT consulting company called Programming Solutions. Cindy Hill also started a spin-off company called PSITech Support. According to a 2021 Pew Research study, Blacks compose 11 percent of the U.S. workforce, but only 7 percent of computer-related careers.
The CHILL Tech Computer Lab would offer a six-week paid internship for area youth to learn from IT professionals. There is an application process for students to register for the program.
“It’s something with a little bit of understanding that they can learn and this can become a trade, and it’s a trade that pays very well,” said Christian Johnson, chief operating officer of PSITech Support.
For Brooklyn Park residents like Clint “Scooter” Draughn, who grew up when the Zanewood Rec Center began, the computer lab is a welcome change.
“Since when I was a kid back in the 90s here, we didn’t have those things,” said Draughn. “I’m just grateful to see these kids have the opportunity to have it.”
Brooklyn Park Mayor Hollies Winston hopes something like this can be stepping stone for other opportunities.
“One of the things we talked about yesterday was how we’re going to get more resources down below 85th [Avenue] in terms of youth programming. And so this is a wonderful start,” said Winston.
Also See: Zanewood Rec Center Starts a Chess Club