The Newport Boys & Girls Clubs celebrated the launch of a new technology-filled Innovation Lab at its facility, made possible by a $20,000 grant from the James M. Cox Foundation. The Cox Innovation Lab was welcomed with a grand opening ceremony held by the Newport Boys & Girls Clubs at their North End Clubhouse and announced by former New England Patriot and Super Bowl Champion, Malcolm Mitchell.

The donation is part of a greater $150,000 gift from The James M. Cox Foundation to create five new Cox Innovation Labs across the nation, develop STEM programming and provide training for the Boys & Girls Club staff. The Innovation Labs are the cornerstone of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Club Tech program, which provide students access to curriculum to advance their computer literacy skills. These Innovation Labs also help bridge the digital divide for children without access to a computer or internet connection at home. Cox also announced similar investments at the Northern Rhode Island Boys and Girls Club in Woonsocket and the Boys and Girls Club of Meriden in Connecticut.

“We at the Club are thrilled to be one of five recipients nationwide of this generous donation,” said Joe Pratt, executive director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Newport County. “Having the Cox Innovation Lab accessible to our Club kids and teens at two of our Clubhouses will help further our mission. These labs will supply the tools, knowledge and a space for members to hone skills that will help them adapt to an increasingly digital world. In addition, the Innovation Lab will be pivotal to the success of our members, and as we always say, ‘Great Futures Start HERE’.”

The Cox Innovation Lab provides new and innovative technology and support to help bridge the digital divide that exists for many young people in Newport. It will give the children going to the Boys & Girls Club the freedom to explore their interest in STEM while providing those without a computer or internet access a way to get connected and manage through distance learning. It includes laptop computers, furniture, 3D printers, and Wi-Fi and internet services provided by Cox.

“A reliable connection to the internet is more important now than ever before,” said Ross Nelson, senior vice president and region manager, Cox Northeast. “We’re committed to ensuring our children are connected at school, at home and right here at the Boys & Girls Club where so many children spend their afternoons. We look forward to the incredible achievements we’re going to see from the Club kids and teens in Newport in the coming years.”

In addition to the Innovation Lab grant, Cox has made great strides in expanding broadband access in Rhode Island. Through community partnerships with organizations like the Boys & Girls Clubs, Connect2Compete (C2C) and CARES Act funding, Cox is moving the needle on bridging the digital divide for families and students across its Northeast footprint.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.  Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in...