BY CINDE INGRAM
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
HIGH POINT — Equal access to technology can help bridge academic gaps for students in Guilford County Schools, connect families and is a goal driving Adrian Martinca forward.
The 27-year-old’s vision for freedom in education drove Martinca to found the nonprofit Technology for the Future after starting a technology company when he was only 13. Now he collaborates with GCS and community partners who share his vision to help make it a reality for thousands of students from low-income families.
“We can get them the resources to give them hope,” Martinca said. “Education isn’t simply about going to school. It’s about your ability to believe in yourself, feel supported and explore your dreams and visions. To do that in today’s society, if you have technology you have freedom.”
His nonprofit is overcoming parents’ fear and doubt by providing laptops with a managed cloud that prevents children from accessing pornographic websites or other dangers on the internet. “So now the children can actually learn freely, the parents can have comfort and the community can create a common ground for learning,” Martinca said.
In collaboration with local community organizations and the school system, his nonprofit provides students with relevant computer programming and constantly improves technology service through its cloud. Working with other agencies, Martinca’s nonprofit can provide a child with a free computer and Technology for the Future’s education program at a cost of $180 each. More community partners will help provide equal access for more children.
“The overarching perspective of what we want with this is freedom in education, freedom to learn,” Martinca said. “It gives parents the ability to not have any fear or doubt in their child’s ability to explore their education freely through our system. We want to empower the system, not to go against or change it.”
The children at High Point LEAP’s Camp Carey were surprised and excited to use 10 new laptops Martinca delivered Thursday to their site at the back of Southside Recreation Center.
“We are so grateful to Technology for the Future for these laptops that will help us bridge the gap for digital access for children and families living in poverty,” said Claire Robinson, founder/CEO of LEAP, Literacy Empowers All People. “Children will be able to access reading and math activities, homework and programs to build their academic skills. Parents will be able to use the laptops to apply for jobs and even to access GED and ESL courses online for those who need this training.”
Before Christmas last year, Martinca and his 23-year-old sister Miriam presented hundreds of laptops to students at High Point Central and T. Wingate Andrews high schools. One computer not only allowed a family’s three children to complete homework they weren’t able to do before but their mother was able to get a job via a video interview over Skype.
“I know for a fact that for many of these kids it was the first time they ever had their own computer,” said Paul Lessard, president of the High Point Community Foundation. “The digital divide is one of the huge hurdles that folks in poverty have to deal with.”
Lessard, who has known the Martincas for about two years, has worked with them toward their mission to get laptops in childrens’ hands to connect them on the internet safely. “If you can’t get on the internet in this day and age, it really stimies a lot of your educational opportunities,” Lessard said.
Having access to the computer hardware and cloud technology will provide LEAP participants with the opportunities for 24/7 access to digital resources, learning and to pilot a literacy portal for learning through the use of Google classroom for both children and parents. “Having this access opens the door for learning and achievements for the children academically but also for skills training as well,” Robinson said.
Lessard said he likes that Martinca has “established boundaries for these kids so that when he gives them a computer to use for academic or educational purposes, that’s all it’s going to be used for.” He’s also impressed by the way Martinca’s nonprofit is addressing the voids people face when living in poverty by providing a bridge to help them reach their full potential.
“Imagine a day when every child from third or fourth grade on has their own laptop and can learn not just in school but at home,” Lessard said. “It’s going to change everything. It could have major ramifications, especially with our Say Yes program. I think he’s a visionary. I think he’s got a big heart and he truly wants to make a difference in this town.”
Although Martinca spoke of his vision for leveling the playing field to help the next generation, he downplayed his role as a visionary. “You don’t need a time machine to see the future, because you see it in your own kids,” he said.