MIAMI – The official launch of Affirming YOUth Foundation happened on Aug. 4; however, the program has been serving teens long before opening its doors. The program’s importance to the community was celebrated by guests like WHQT Hot 105, radio personality Shelby Rushin, who hosted the festivities; as well as Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, District School Board of Miami-Dade County, representatives from both City of Miami, Chairman Keon Hardemon, and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson’s office.

Affirming YOUth distributed over 200 backpacks with school supplies. Music was provided by Saxophonist Jon Saxx as well as the Miami Northwestern Marching Band. Cristal Cole, from AT&T, presented a check to the Affirming YOUth Foundation for $25,000.

“We are so proud to work with AT&T in providing state-of-the-art technologies to help bridge the digital divide for our communities,” said Jonathan Spikes, Founder and Executive Director of Affirming YOUth. “The lab will be a valuable resource to the youth in the identified communities especially as our youth prepare for college and 21st Century careers.

The Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)TechKnowledgy Computer Lab officially opens when students return to school at the end of August. The first of its kind in Liberty City, the lab will be instrumental in helping students who might not have computers at home with their homework. Students will also take part in digital strategies and techniques that assist in SEL.

The Affirming YOUth Center will also help students with their social and emotional well-being by collaborating with students to develop strategies to deal with emotions in a healthy way. The programs will empower them to identify thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder; and help them identify and build upon their strengths.

Affirming YOUth Foundation was selected by AT&T because of its robust educational programming and resource center that helps youth develop socialemotional skills. The lab will be stocked with desktops, printers, flat-screen television and movable furniture. Staff, volunteers and community partners will host technology classes, digital literacy workshops, STEM programs and open labs for state-of-the-art learning experiences.

“AT&T believes it is critical for students to have access to the tools and support systems they need to graduate, succeed in college or enter the workforce as they strive to reach their full potential,” said Cristal Cole, AT&T Florida external affairs. “We are proud to support community programming provided by organizations like the Affirming Youth Foundation, who help foster a safe environment where children can dream big and access the resources they need to be successful in life.”