Partner’s luncheon / Robotics course – Nov. 2023

Week 3 in the Robotics course

Hope IT is grateful to share with you how our Partner’s Luncheon went in September, and our Robotics course in October.  We are also active in preparing for 3 courses coming up in January, February, and March.

Partner’s Luncheon in September:

Hope IT hosted a luncheon for our partners.  This is an excellent opportunity for the Hope IT team to connect with leaders, when we are not laser focused on students.  This gathering is one way for Hope IT to thank the leaders at our partner organizations for both what they do week in and week out for their youth, and for connecting with Hope IT.  We were so engaged, we did not get a picture.  Below is a summary of our time.

  • 8 folks were at the luncheon.
    • 4 members of the Hope IT team
    • 2 members of the 2 partners below.
  • We got to reflect on the impact of students from last school year.  These stories were told by the partners themselves.  These stories highlight how each organization and Hope IT are making an impact on a few students, which motivates us all to continue.
  • We reviewed the Hope IT courses planned for this school year.  Hope IT got to explain how each of these courses connect to learning, increasing confidence for students in the tech field, and how these course connect to real IT jobs.  We got to give brief demos of the content of each course.
  • We met at Knox Presbyterian Church, where our in-person courses are held.  This gives our partners a solid idea of the environment their students will be coming to…a safe, spacious, quiet, and welcoming space.  (We are thankful to our partners at Knox Presbyterian Church!!)
  • We had some time to answer questions.  One key question was, with all the IT layoffs, are IT jobs still worth pursuing.  The Hope IT team gave a responding answer of “Yes”, as IT skills cross over in so many areas, and having IT skills are very marketable.  All jobs are changing, and you can adapt better with IT skills.

Robotics course completed:

We had 3 students come to the Robotics course.  We always have fun with this course, and it is a great way to connect with new students, and have them work on something new.  Here are some key highlights.

  • These 3 students came from 2 organizations:
    • Sycamores: It has been a few years since Hope IT had a student from Sycamores, the foster group home for boys in Altadena.  We are so grateful to have students from Sycamore again.
    • Thrive Learning Lab of NW Pasadena: This is a new partner for Hope IT !!  We had 2 students from this group.  This partner is an after-school program, and also faith-based.  We look forward to continued students from Thrive Learning Lab!
    • These students are at the perfect age to be old enough to handle complex IT topics, and young enough to have time to learn.  They are all freshmen and sophmores in high school.
    • It is always precious to meet new students, and hear what they are going through, and see what makes them intrigued, engaged, and yes, bored.  We hear a little of what is going on in their why one student is on crutches…falling off his scooter…and that he may have surgery.
  • The challenging aspect of this Robotic course was, as the pictures above shows, the students were not at the sessions at the same time.  Some missed one of the 4 sessions.  Some had to leave early; others came late.  Our team had to juggle and customize the lessons, to get students caught up and re-teach what other students already covered.  No dull moments at a Hope IT course!!
  • On the last Saturday of the course, 2 of the 3 regular team members could not make it.  Our Hope IT team…and our extended friends…is large enough to continue the course…by filling in…opening the doors…handing over the equipment for the course…and finishing in strong fashion.  What a team!!

Upcoming courses:

Normally, the Hope IT team would have a break at this time of the year.  This school year, we are planning for more courses.  So we are busy meeting to prepare lesson plans, and cover with some of us cannot be there.  Here is what is coming up:

  • January: Data Analysis course:  Working with data is a red, red hot hot skill in IT…emphasis intended!!  This is a great way to learn about pulling in data into dashboards, and how to present the data accurately in grids and charts that others can quickly grasp what is going on.  This is an on-line course, so students anywhere can join in.
  • February – WordPress course: This course shows how to create and maintain websites, using WordPress.  As COVID was so long, this course is the most taught course that Hope IT has, so this is a tried and true course for us.  On the end of this course, Hope IT with our partners at Bridges, offer a paid internship for one student that take this course.  We are thrilled that the internship last school year worked out so well for one student.
  • March – SQL/Database course: This is our first Intermediate course.  This topic is not taught in high school.  Knowing databases and the SQL language is a direct skill that IT programmers use.  I have used SQL for 25+ years.  This course will allow students to begin to have job-ready skills.

Monthly “Check-in” times:

Lastly, Hope IT remains connected to our students from last year.  There are 2 key students that attended almost all of our courses last year.  However, they moved far away from the LA area over the summer.  They are in new schools now.  They are seniors in high school this year.  Hope IT is creating monthly “check-in” times for us to stay connected, offer encouragement, and keep the relationship going…growing.  Hope IT team is experimenting with these times, to have the students join all at the same time, and probably encourage each other.  We are touched by these times, and our students are so appreciative of staying connected.  Below is what we chatted about in our last gathering this month:

  • We talked about IT/programming courses they are taking in high school or community college, as well as their art classes.
  • The conversation came to discuss why a debate course could really help one learn how to defend one’s ideas.
  • We also touch quickly on their college admission work….key time for that!

We know God is looking for faithfulness.  Hope IT is not a resounding, shining example of success.  We keep at it.  Thank you for your support, and prayers.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and Spirit-filled Christmas.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Start of a New School Year – September 2023

Hope IT at the Elizabeth House relaunch of their Mother and Child Well-Being Center in August.

Hope IT is preparing for a new school year.  We have new goals and ideas.  Please pray for the students that will come this year to our courses, for their parents and families, for the Hope IT partnering organizations, and for the Hope IT team.  We have seen how time, energy and experiences can reshape how our young students see themselves, God, and their future.

Goals for the 2023-24 School Year:

Hope IT is working on improvements from last year:

    1. Strengthen our partnerships: Continue to expand and deepen our relationship with our partners.
    2. Intermediate courses: Offer new set of courses with more IT industry-wide technology and techniques.
    3. Students be the teachers: One of Hope IT’s dreams is to guide students to have enough skill and confidence, that they can teach and/or co-teach our basic courses.
    4. Extra Class: Offer other opportunities beyond our courses, such as field trips to JPL for students, or other such events.

You will see some of these goals show up in our efforts.

Deepening work with partners:

The key to the effort of Hope IT is deepening our effort with our partners.  Hope IT is part of the holistic care of the student.  Once there is trust and common understanding of what Hope IT aims to do, and why that is compelling for young students, partnership is working better.  Hope IT can offer extended opportunities for students, but Hope IT does not have the resources or experience to guide and care for many of the core needs of the students.

This is where partnership is so key.  Hope IT saw some good partnership begin to foster last year, and we look to both expand to new partners, and go further with existing ones.  Below are a few examples of both:

    • We will have another Partner’s Luncheon in September, to explain the goals and courses Hope IT will offer this year.
        • We have an advantage this year, now that some of our partners can share stories of both success and challenges their students encountered in dealing with Hope IT courses, and opportunities.
        • We could have a full room-full of partners, as 8 partner organizations could join us.  Last year, we have 4 partner organizations join us for the luncheon.
        • We can now ask better questions of what is working, and what is not.  One small change we made is start our courses a bit latter, at 10am, instead of 9:30am.  We can also look back at previous courses, and even our paid internship.
        • The partners that are invited (in alpha order): Door of Hope
            • Elizabeth House
            • Harambee
            • Iglesia de la Communidad (in Highland Park)
            • Pasadena Church
            • Stars
            • Sycamores Foster Group Home
            • Thrive Learning Lab NW Pasadena
        • We were planning a Robotics course in September with Elizabeth House, in their new Mother and Child Well-Being Center, which they relaunched this August (see the above picture of our team at the relaunch event).  Elizabeth House is a new partner Hope IT is trying to work with.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel this course, as we did not receive enough sign ups.
        • Hope IT looks to help guide a senior in high school to what is possible at the college level.
        • Hope IT cannot function without the long-standing partnership from Knox Presbyterian Church, where our October and June courses are held, and where 94% of our funding for our laptops, Robotics kits, paid internship, and partnership luncheon comes from.
        • Hope IT also cannot be successful without the key partnership of Bridges, who provides our fiscal sponsorship (so tax deductible donations can be received), fiscal help to pay our interns via their work permit, offering the internship, and key monthly coaching.
          Finally, our support from you individually, from prayers, kind words of encouagement, and gifts in kind (4 laptops to date!!) are so key to allow Hope IT to continue.

Hope IT is so grateful for the partnership we have had, and continue to have.  We look forward to another good year.

Courses offered:

Hope IT is offering the same courses offered last school year.  We seem to have a rhythm with the 3 basic courses of Robotics, WordPress, and Solving Mazes with the Python programming language.

We are adding a new approach.  To date, we have only offered beginning courses.  Now, we will offer an intermediate course, on SQL (which is how programmers pull data out of a database.)  To prepare students for this, we are offering a 4th beginning course in January, on Data Analysis.

We have a full load of courses.  It will be a stretch for Hope IT to pull this off.  The schedule of courses is below.

Month Description
October Introduction to Robotics: Get hands on with the wiring, circuits, and components to make a robot.
January Data Analysis (online): Create dashboards to present data with grids, line and bar charts, and filters.
February WordPress (online): Create a website with no programming. Add pictures, videos, links, and a blog.
March New Intermediate course on SQL & Databases: Learn this super important skill to pull data out of a database.
June Solve Mazes with Python programming: Python is one of the most widely used programming languages for so many uses. Learn some of the basics, while having fun making a virtual robot get out of a maze.

We know, some of our efforts will work, and some may not pan out like we hope. We will keep working at it, trying to give students opportunities and allow them fun, expanded community with adults and IT professionals, and real IT skills.

We look forward to what God has in store for us this school year. Do continue to pray for us, our students, partners, and team.

2022-23 – A School Year of Increase – August 2023

3 students at the Solving Mazes with Python course in June.

Hope IT is thankful to God, our students, our partners, and for your supportive prayers and gifts. In this update, we highlight the June course, and review how the last 2022-23 school-year went.

June course:

In June, Hope IT had a Maze Solving course using the Python programming language. See more details about the course at this link.  Below are the highlights of this course in June:

  • 3 students from the Door of Hope started the course, and 1 student finished. These 3 young men were 17 to 20 years old.
  • All 3 were returning students from other courses this year. 2 of them took 3 courses this year with Hope IT; these 2 students are moving out of the Los Angeles area, so we had to say good-bye to them.
  • Each week we used better approaches to solve the maze, from randomly moving around, to not repeating steps just taken (going back and forth aimlessly), to using the right-hand rule to solve mazes (which almost works well.) The screenshot below shows a sample of the virtual robot in the maze.
    This is the second time Hope IT taught this course. The last time we taught this was back in February 2020 (before COVID).
  • We covered many situations where we developed and altered code, making and fixing mistakes and learning to be a programmer solving a problem with some complexity. We showed why grit is necessary for programming.
  • Both pictures above and below are from this course.

End of the 2022-23 School Year in Review:

  • Partnership luncheon:

    • Looking back at our partner lunch in September 2022 we re-newed our connections with long-standing partners, and even new ones.
    • The staff at our partners continues to change, so connecting with them in-person last Fall was so key.
    • Those connections built successful courses, with students gaining skills and opportunities.
  • Students:

    • We had a total 21 students attend out 5 courses. As a comparison, the previous school year we had 4 students in 3 courses.
    • As we mentioned above, 2 of our most consistent students (older, 16 year olds) are moving out of the Los Angeles area, so we will only have limited connection with them via on-line courses; this coming school year will be their senior year of high school. This also means, we need to bring in a whole new set of students this next upcoming school year.
  • Courses:

    • We had 5 courses this year, more than our usual 3 courses per year.
    • We had in-person courses again (4 of the 5 were in-person), which brought out our energy out more as we taught and led the courses.
    • 2 courses were dedicated to just our partners students, at Stars and the Door of Hope.
    • We had a brand new Robotics course, and we taught it twice this school year. It was a big success, gaining the excitement of kids and partners.
    • Our Roblox course had 9 energetic 4th and 5th graders, the most students we ever had in a course. It was a learning curve for our team, for sure.
  • Internship was a success:

    • One of our students successfully completed the paid internship. He is a 17 year old high school junior. We are very proud of him.
    • This not only gets this student very far in opening new opportunities, but the Hope IT team gained experience, to prepare and guide other students through internships.
    • This internship was with our partner, Bridges, working on the Bridges website. We are so thankful to Bridges.
    • The internship was 20 paid hours of remote work, to create a better format on a web page, to present all their Bridge leaders. The student had to show a few prototypes, for Bridges to decide which to use.
    • The Hope IT student used his acquired WordPress skills from the October Hope IT course, to work on the Bridges website. These skills are need to expand and adapt, as Bridges uses the Divi framework rather than the Elementor framework used in the Hope IT WordPress course. (Both are very popular in the industry.)
    • Soft skills the student gained includes how to be ready and on-time for on-line meetings, and making presentations to the boss, and how to interact with people at work. We got very positive feedback about him.
  • More funding, more equipment:

    • Hope IT received 60% more funding this school year, from our usual $1,000 to $1,600 this year.
    • With the extra funding, Hope IT purchased 2 more laptops, so we now have a base of 5 laptops for our courses, permitting us to have more students.
    • This summer, a couple also gifted Hope IT 2 older laptops, so we expanded further, from 5 laptops to 7 laptops.
    • The extra funding allowed us to have a paid internship!!
    • The funding also allows Hope IT to have Robotics kits ($30 each), so that we give kits to the students at the end of the course; great to see the student’s faces when they realize they get their own kit to use after class.
  • Hope IT team changes

    • 2 long-term team members had to leave our team. They had been with us for 5 years each.
    • Hope IT gained 2 new team members; we are grateful.
    • We had 2 high-school volunteers to assist us with our April Robotics course. It gives our students even more attention, to ensure everyone is staying on track, and can ask questions. These young volunteers also serve as role models.

You can see God has blessed our students, our Hope IT team, and our efforts this last school year. Thank you for your prayers, support and encouragement.

Working with underserved students is a privilege, a blessing, and challenging. Admittedly, we at times are challenged, and the going gets tough. We look to God for direction and hope, and point to some successes as making all the effort worth it.

We are looking forward to similar increases this upcoming school year, God willing.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Reviewing the Python code together.
Screen shot of a maze, with the virtual robot needing to find the exit (door).

Expanding – March 2023

Close up of 2 students working on their Robotic kit

Hope IT is grateful to God for new opportunities.  We are really expanding: here are a few highlights.  With this expansion, we are now in need of financial support.  This is the first time we are asking for financial assistance to support this expansion.

Hope IT is grateful to have 2 courses completed last month, and one course starting in April:

    • 2 students from the Door of Hope finished the WordPress course, creating web sites.
      • They learned how to add pictures, links, videos, and create a blog.
      • They also learned about PlugIns, the key idea to WordPress.  This allows you to quickly add features to track who visits your website, quickly build web pages, optimize your website appearing in Google searches, and much more.
    • Hope IT finished the Roblox courses with 4th and 5th graders at Stars.
      • This was a 6 week course, meeting on Thursday afternoon.
      • The kids learned how games they love are created on the platform.  The kids also created a small game (created a script), and then program – creating a script – where a player runs an obstacle course with dangerous obstacles.  This included changes in lighting over the course of the day.
      • The Hope IT was stretched as well, as this was one of the few times the students outnumbered the Hope IT team during a course.  These were also the youngest students we taught programming to.
      • One student published his game to his Roblox account, and play the game on his phone.  It was a small triumph, especially given the impact it had on the other kids watching.  We are considering adding this to future classes.
    • Hope IT partnering with the Door of Hope for an upcoming Robotic course
      • We are hoping 6 students, from ages 13 and up will join in.
      • This course will be in April, on 4 Saturday mornings.
      • Our 2 students from the October course will assist…and get paid doing so.
      • The Hope IT team is growing, and we may have new Hope IT team members join in…including possibly 2 high school students.

Hope IT’s efforts are expanding…with expanding costs:

    • We are expanding our courses offered.  We usually offer 3 courses per year.  This year, we may have 5.
    • We have more students in our courses.  This means we need more laptops and mice.
    • If our plans go well, we will have 2 Robotics courses this year.  We are gladly giving the Robotic kits away to the students after the course.  With the Robotic kits cost $30 each, you can see this can begin to add up.
    • We are beginning to reward students that have gained skill, in paying them to help assist in our courses.
    • We look eagerly towards our paid internship for one student coming up in April with Bridges.  This is a 4 week internship, at $16 per hour, for 5 hours per week.  The total is $400.  Through Bridges, we are paying this student via a work permit.  This one student will fill out an internship application, go through a Hope IT interview, and meet with the Hope IT team weekly, to make sure challenges at the workplace do not overwhelm the student.

Hope IT is looking to gain more funding.  Please consider donating money. 

    • We have an ambitious plan for the rest of this school year, as well as next school year with more plans of expansion (stay tuned).
    • As you know and as listed above, there are costs involved.
    • We are buying laptops, Robotic kits, and paying our older kids in the internship program, and assisting in courses.
    • We need to raise $1,000 more than our current budget has.
    • If you like to donate to Hope IT to help us accomplish all these efforts, continue reading below.  We show the steps to donate from our website.
    • Your assistance will directly allow kids to gain computer/IT skills, either to acquire more equipment (laptops and Robotic kits), or to pay key students themselves, as they assist in courses and the internship.

We love to see this growth.  It brings a different kind of challenge.  Bless you for your prayers, and considering financially supporting Hope IT.

What we are firm about is the love of God, and God’s emphasis on caring for those on the margins.  Hope IT is so blessed to work with our partners, and especially, with the students that come to Hope IT courses.

God bless.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Here’s how to donate from the Hope IT website:

Go to our “Donate” web page at this link:

Click the “Donate” button, see the green arrow below.

You will be forwarded to the Bridges’ DonorPerfect donation web page.  Bridges is Hope IT’s fiscal sponsor.  You can give a one-time gift, or set up monthly giving.

    • Click the default amount, or use the “Other” button to enter an amount you prefer.
    • The key point is to select “Ministry of Hope IT” in the Choose Ministry drop down, see the 2nd green arrow below.
    • Click the “Next” button.

Fill in your personal information (see below), and click the “Next” button at the bottom.

You can donate using your credit card or directly from your bank account.  We show both options below, using the “Payment Option” drop down, see the green arrows below.  You can also select to cover the small transaction fee, or now.  When you are finished, click the “Submit Payment” button at the bottom.

You will receive an email from Bridges, thanking you for your donation.  Please keep this donation email for you tax purposes.  Hope IT thanks you for your donation!!  Thank you for your partnership in allowing underserved students gain computer/IT skill, confidence, and glimpse of God’s love.

New Year – New efforts

Hope IT – New Year, New efforts

4th and 5th graders at Stars creating their Roblox games

Happy New Year!! Hope IT has welcomed the new year, starting quickly and has many plans for the rest of this school year.  Also, this is the 7th year for Hope IT. We thank God.

Hope IT has started a 6 week Roblox game creation course with 10 students at Star’s after-school program.  Here are the highlights:

  • 4th and 5th grades on Thursday afternoons are learning how to create games in Roblox (see the picture above).
  • Students are learning the key concepts of Building and Scripting in Roblox Studio (see a screen shot below of the tool the students are using.)
  • Roblox uses the Lua programming language, which is somewhat like Python.  This introduces students to computer aided design and script language programming to automate the game objects.
  • There is so much excitement, that the 2nd and 3rd graders are wondering when their turn will be.  (We are still evaluating what is the youngest reasonable age for a class.)
  • Truth be told: it requires effort, and stretching oneself to take in the new concepts and skills.  It can also be frustrating. This is especially so because of the school time lost because of the covid epidemic.  Students are much less accustomed to classroom behavior.
  • This is the most students Hope IT has ever had in a course.
  • Even us instructors are challenged to keep the 10 students moving forward, and remain encouraged and positive.  We are learning a lot as well, especially in the proper framing of the material. We are also learning about classroom discipline, with the help from Stars staff, who have had training in teaching, child development, and counseling.
  • Roblox is a great transitional play and work space to allow young kids to use their current enjoyment and knowledge (playing games), and learn computer aided design (CAD) and programming concepts that can help them in the future.

Coming up quickly, Hope IT will start our WordPress website creation course in February.  Here are the key points.

  • WordPress is a good skill to learn, as more than 30% of all websites use WordPress.  There are actual jobs looking for people with WordPress experience.
  • WordPress does not require programming.  Kids can definitely learn this skill.
  • The main concepts in WordPress are Themes and Plugins.  There are so many of those, students will learn how to share information (text, pictures and videos), sell products, optimize web pages for Internet searches (SEO), and see the traffic of guests to your website, and more.
  • A paid internship for one student follows this course.  Hope IT will look to have one of our students apply and interview for this internship.  Our partner Bridges is looking for one student to help with their website work in WordPress.  This is a skill in demand with a large market.

God is creative, and brings a spirit of newness.  We are looking forward to how this new year progresses.  God bless.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Sample Roblox obstacle game created in the Hope IT course

Nov 2022 – Grateful for 2 students & partners

Hope IT is grateful for 2 students and our partners, for successfully completing our Introduction to Robotics course.

After reconnecting with our partners, we had 2 students from the Door of Hope to attend our Robotics course in October. Here are a few highlights:

  • Each week, we saw the students learn.
  • They wired different circuits.
    • That meant doing simple things like lighting up an LED, and then making it blink. This was used to teach the basics of electronic circuits, power, and powered devices.
    • Students added a resistor, and understood the difference between 3.3 volts and 5 volts devices and using resistors to integrate devices requiring different voltages.
    • The following week, they made a robotic arm move to specified locations at specified times. The arm was controlled by a servo motor. Computer control of physical motion was discussed.
    • On the last week, they added an ultrasonic sensor to detect objects 10 centimeters away, and if so, raise the arm…like a parking arm we use all the time to enter a parking lot, and lower it when the car has passed. They did it themselves, and oh, that was fun to see it work. This demonstrated integration of sensors, logic, and mechanical devices using closed loop control.
  • And some math involved! We covered angles, speed of sound, and calculating distance. This is a reminder to students to keep up with math, as its so connected to computer skills. The Hope IT team just smiles.

It was intriguing to also visit the Harvest Festival at the Door of Hope before Halloween, and have a table for Hope IT, showing other kids what they can learn. Our 2 students came by the table, and put together the circuits, going through each of the set ups they learned. It was a relaxed, unstructured, fun environment, and an opportunity to reinforce what they learned. One of the students had their mom there watching…and taking pictures. We are all proud of them.

For these students, Hope IT will have a bonus one-day session, in early December, creating ornaments of LED lights, soldering them permanently.

Hope IT is grateful to God for the 2 partners (below) that help Hope IT in the background. We could not serve kids without these 2 key partners. We are thankful for them.

  • Knox Presbyterian Church provides us funds – to buy the laptops and the Robotics kits – as well as the great room (see the pictures) to learn and be together.
  • Bridges provides Hope IT with coaching to communicate better to partners and supporters, and the fiscal sponsorship to both receive donations, get reimbursed on expenses, and even have an opportunity to pay kids to help teach other kids (via work permit).

Here’s a quick overview of courses coming up.

  • Working with Stars, we are tentatively setting up a Roblox course for 4th and 5th graders for January and February.
  • In February, Hope IT will have a Saturday morning course on WordPress again. This will be an on-line course, to prevent COVID spread, that usually occurs more in winter.
  • We are optimistic for partners with the Door of Hope to have an April Robotics course, and possibly have our 2 students that just took the course, help as assistants. We really look forward to that prospect.

Hope IT is grateful for your support and prayers, our team, our students, and our partners. We see students begin to view their future more positively, and we all see God’s love more. Absolutely why we are doing all this.

God bless, and have a good, spirit-filled Thanksgiving.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Reset and Robotics – October 2022

For Hope IT, this is time to reset / re-establish our partnerships, and start a new course, Introduction to Robotics!

With COVID lasting these last 2 years, we experienced difficulties connecting with our partners.  To improve on that, the Hope IT team had a Zankou lunch (yum) with key leaders in organizations that have partnered with us in the past,as well as new one.

Key takeaways:

  • These organizations care and serve underserved kids in the Pasadena area.  These organizations are the Door of Hope, Stars, the Elizabeth House, Sycamores (foster group homes for boys), Thrive Learning Lab NW Pasadena, and Pasadena Church.
  • We had time to introduce ourselves, review what Hope IT is about, demonstrated a few past courses, and ask how we can partner together.
  • We covered why an IT career is compelling for youth, particularly as there are so many good IT jobs in Pasadena.
  • Connecting in-person with these leaders was key, as many of them are new to their organizations, and new to Hope IT.
  • The above picture is some of the folks that join us.  From right to left is Miriam and Karyn from Stars, Florence from Thrive Learning Lab NW Pasadena, and Pastor Brad from Pasadena Church, and me.

We have a brand new course coming this month: Introduction to Robotics.  We start this Saturday, October 8th…tomorrow morning!!  We will give you an update.

Here’s a quick overview of the Robotics course.

  • We use an Arduino kit.  We start with a box of wires and components.  We thank Barnabas Robotics in Pasadena for the starter kits.
  • Slowly, students will be learning about circuits, resistors, and LED lights, and putting them on a breadboard.  (I show an example in the picture below.)
  • Later, we add programming, moving parts (a servo), and the robot begins to move and react to outside stimulus.  (An example is parking arm that senses your car approach, and raising the arm to let you pass.)  This takes time to build.  Students will learn!
  • Key concepts include electrical current flow, sensors, and software control.  These are the basic building blocks on how our laptops and smartphone and all devices work.  Students will see these directly.

We can see how complex robots are, and how much more complex humans are (read Psalm 139). Such is the art of God.  We hope you see God’s blessings around you.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Challenges, COVID and Continuing – June 2022

The past couple of months has been challenging for Hope IT. COVID makes it difficult to maintain contact with kids and volunteers, and Zoom, while a great tool, is not the same as meeting in person.

We had a Roblox course planned and ready for June. It’s a fun course for creating games, which are popular with young kids today. It allows students to learn how to create the games and do some programming as well. (See 2 screen shots of what creating a game in Roblox looks like below.) We intended this to be an in-person course. We took a chance when Covid was at a low, but got no sign ups. There are also challenges with our partner organizations. We will continue to try.

Underserved kids need extra help to transition to the job market. Few of them can avail themselves of “take your child to work day” to see what the work world is actually like, which in turn results in a serious case of culture shock when they are first exposed to it.

To help with this, we look for internship opportunities and found one at Bridges, one of our partner organizations. This opportunity was for WordPress (web sites) remote work, and paid $16/hour for up to 4 weeks. After a lot of searching for applicants, we found a 16 year old in a foster group home. He was very successful in our WordPress course. He filled out an application and went through an interview with Hope IT. We talked about overcoming challenges, maintaining trust, and how to solve problems. We were all set. Except, when it was time to start the internship, we could not reach our student. After 3 weeks, we finally talked again – mind you, all on-line – and the student finally decided not to pursue the internship. We intend to review this with some youth leaders (more about this below.) We will learn and try again.

We are also planning to talk directly to youth leaders. We will have a lunch gathering in September. One topic we plan to discuss is how to maintain the relationship with the students and keep enthusiasm alive. As I have heard, Hope IT is not the only group seeing youth decline when opportunities arise. We think this time will help us work together going forward. It’s a time for the youth leaders to see what a job in the IT industry can bring to a student. We have to figure out how to sustain the students’ motivation and ease the transitions. We are confident we can do this, but we will have to work hard to make it easy for the kids. This is not trivial.

Our next course is also intended to be in-person…learning the basics in Robotics. (See a preview picture of the Robotics kits below). We love it. I hope the students do as well.

We will give you another update in the Fall.

We know our God does not quit. We are motivated by what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love bears all things, believe all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” We will continue to learn, and try better efforts. Our students can overcome these challenges.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Create games with Roblox Studio
Sample of creating a game in Roblox studio

Newsletter – November 2021

Hope this newsletter finds you well. We are thankful for your prayers, for new opportunities, and for efforts showing fruit. Two remarkable stories occurred in these last 2 months:

You may recall we are partnering with Liberia Renewal Ministries (LRM), to run a Basic Skills course for 15 high schoolers in Liberia, Africa. (Half are girls.) Our partner is Boye-Nelson Kiamu, who is CEO of LRM; he is also a PhD student at Fuller Seminary. Logistics and operations with Africa are always an adventure, but with a week’s delay we got 3 laptops to Liberia. Each laptop was shared by 5 students.

Olivia — our remarkable 17 year old Hope IT student — taught the basic computer skills course (creating a document and spreadsheet, using a mouse and keyboard, and basic Internet searches) to these students who have NEVER touched a computer before. Olivia had her own challenges, still recovering from a COVID vaccination of the previous day of the start of our course.

Olivia put in the effort. With 14 hours of preparation work, class time was 2 hours on 3 consecutive Saturdays. The courses started at 8am, so it would not be too late in Liberia, which was a 3pm start time. Olivia grew as a good and caring teacher, learning how to patiently repeat new topics until students were able to repeat and understand. There were several golden moments of 16 students…Olivia and Liberian students…concentrating and working together…all learning.

We are proud of Olivia. It was just last year, Olivia first joined a Hope IT course. She entered the foster care system at that time. One year later, look at what Olivia is doing. Above and below we show pictures of Olivia teaching, all the 15 students with the laptops, and Boye-Nelson receiving the laptops from me and Hope IT. We feel blessed by the recent successes, and hope to do more.

Meanwhile, we were preparing to offer our next WordPress on-line course. We were able to reconnect with the Sycamores, a foster group home for boys. (It’s been 2 years since we have had boys from the Sycamore in a Hope IT course). After I visited the home, we had 4 boys signed up for this October course, and 2 boys (ages 16 and 18) attended the course on 4 Saturdays. Sycamores provided laptops for the boys to work remotely on their new web sites.

Our WordPress course mostly covers web development, but many other topics come up, like Cloud computing, art, and tracking metrics. The boys are interested in more courses, so we are developing a more extensive education plan.

Hope IT plans to have an in-person Robotics course in February. This is a new course, and we are getting assistance from Ed Li and Barnabas Robotics, also in Pasadena. We will give you an update in January.

Please pray for Liberia Renewal Ministries, these 15 students in Liberia, students like Olivia and other Hope IT students in the Pasadena area, and the Hope IT team. We all need to see and experience the mercies of our Lord.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead

Newsletter – August 2021

Hope this newsletter finds you well.  The Hope IT team wants to give you an update on our situation and upcoming plans.

As you know,  COVID and the Delta variant are still here.  We (try to) progress to normalcy, while taking precaution against the Delta variant.

Such is the case at Hope IT.   To keep students safe,  we decided to hold another on-line course.  For October, we will hold our most successful course, creating web sites with WordPress.

Our other problem is underserved kids and their families are struggling.  We try  to find kids to attend our courses.  It is hard to create courses that are on-line, using the platforms and skills available to the students.  It’s hard for kids to attend on-line courses. Hope IT is starting to recruit  kids for our course.

It is not fun to struggle.  It brings questions.  One wonders if we are on the right path.

In the midst of these struggles, we find some areas of opportunity and partnership.  We are thankful to God for these.

First, we found a partner in Barnabas Robotics.  Ed Li is their co-founder, and has been teaching kids to build various robots for 7 years, from 5 years old to high school.  Hope IT recently visited his educational center in Pasadena.  We were thrilled, and encouraged.  Ed has a heart for teaching.  He runs his course for kids to be engaged, to add creative ideas, and include art and their individual perspectives in their work.

For example, two robots were built by 2 siblings, a 5 and 8 years old.  These robots controlled traffic light switch boards, reacting to toy cars coming near the stop.  The kids added their own traffic signs, which they identified with on their own family travels.  Another robot was able to make fencing moves, made by a highschooler.  The number of robots at the center was quite impressive.  Unfortunately we cannot meet in-person to build robots while Covid is a threat.  But we are beginning to prepare for a robotics course.

Another opportunity to run a course for 15 high schoolers in Liberia, Africa.  Our partner is Boye-Nelson Kiamu, who is CEO of Liberia Renewal Ministries; he is also a PhD student at Fuller Seminary.  We are working on having Hope IT students teaching other students, including preparing resources to train the students who will teach.  The Hope IT vision is to reach underserved kids in the Pasadena area, we want to build up their skills, including teaching and leadership skills.  One of our Hope IT kids — an impressive high school senior — will teach basic skills like creating a document with a word processor, spreadsheet, Internet searches, and creating an email account.

These 15 Liberian students have not touched a computer before.  The idea is to have them share 3 laptops; 5 students to each laptop.  (And if you like to donate a spare laptop, definitely contact us!)  There are many risks:  For one, the Delta variant is also spreading in Liberia.  Having 15 students so close together may be unsafe even with masks.  Additionally, internet and electricity in Liberia are intermittent, even in the capital of Monrovia.

We plan to start this course in Liberia in September, so preparation time is limited.  Can our one Hope IT student lead all 4 Saturdays?  Will conditions in Liberia permit this to be done?  Stay tuned…

Please pray for students in Liberia, and in the Pasadena area as well, as school is starting again.  Pray for us all to see the goodness of the Lord, and again remember that the Lord is good, all the time.

–Mike Veerman
Hope IT team lead