LAHS computer club receives grant & raises funds

Courtesy of Alice Lee
Computer Engineers of the Next Generation President Anyka Chan, from left, Monta Loma Elementary School PTA President Shanna Bengston, Monta Loma Principal Gloria Higgins and CENG Co-President Daniel Lim celebrate the donation of two new Chromebooks purchased with funds the Los Altos High club raised.

Los Altos High School’s Computer Engineers of the Next Generation club received a community impact grant of $1,000 in December from AI4ALL, a nonprofit group whose mission is to increase diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence.

AI4ALL gave CENG the grant for offering a variety of coding courses and impacting traditionally underrepresented students, according to Nicole Halmi, project manager at AI4ALL.

CENG members plan to use the grant to enhance their 2018 classes at Santa Rita School in Los Altos and Monta Loma Elementary School in Mountain View, according to CENG member Michelle Zhu.

The high school club was founded in 2015 to create a diverse upcoming workforce of computer engineers, club adviser Alice Lee said.

CENG members provide after-school courses free of charge at local elementary schools and focus on serving minorities, girls and low-income students in fifth grade.

While teaching at Monta Loma, CENG members realized that three resource teachers didn’t have school-issued Chromebooks and had to bring their own devices to school to complete their work. Club members felt compelled to provide the teachers with their own laptops, CENG member Isabella Borkovic said.

The high school students sold duct tape wallets made by club member Alyssa Tan at the Community Yard Sale in May and raised enough money to buy one new Chromebook, Borkovic said.

“Since we were still short of two Chromebooks, we turned to the PTA for help,” she noted. “We worked closely with the Monta Loma PTA president, Shanna Bengston, to arrange a PTA-sponsored duct tape wallet fundraiser at their Fall Festival.”

In total, the club raised $190 and received two used Chromebooks from Monta Loma’s librarian, Moira Turner, as a donation. CENG used the funds to purchase a new Chromebook and power-washed one of the used ones to its factory condition. Both of the Chromebooks were donated to Monta Loma in November.

Borkovic said CENG members have acquired valuable skills from the fundraising experience.

“After partnering with the Monta Loma PTA, we have learned to work with different stakeholders to achieve a common goal,” she said.

The club will offer Scratch and JavaScript classes to fourth- and fifth-graders at Monta Loma in January and February.

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CENG members Isabella Borkovic and Michelle Zhu contributed to this report.

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