D.C. Vito, executive director, started The Lamp in 2007 with Brooklyn College professor Katherine Fry to help connect the youth with digital media.
Meeting at schools and learning centers across the city, the program most recently touched down at libraries in Long Island City, Ridgewood, Far Rockaway and Cambria Heights, teaching news and reporting tactics with digital workshops like podcasting, the development of public service announcements (PSA) and advertising.
In Ridgewood, The Lamp partnered with the Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) to provide a unique partnership between youth and seniors.
“We find there are some unified characteristics between the two sets, even though there is a definitely a space between these two generations,” Vito explained. “They’re both willing to dive in and make some really great programs out of it.”
While the annual costs for operating The Lamp at these four library branches are roughly $22,000, and as a majority of the company’s grant money runs out at the end of the current school year, Vito asked the Queens Borough Board for $10,000 to continue the program at its budget hearing last week.
“The Lamp’s programs have taught their patrons about building healthy relationships online, how to interpret and create news stories and how media can be used as a bridge for generations instead of a divide,” he explained to Borough President Helen Marshall and the board. “Students learn how to identify bias, why and how different media are created, and how words, pictures and sound come together to tell a story.”
In addition to providing facilitators and curriculum design for the program, the funding is intended to assist in operating costs for leasing laptops, video cameras, sound equipment, headphones, projectors, still cameras and tripods.
“Without The Lamp bringing equipment and media experts directly to schools and community hubs like public libraries, many students would not have the opportunities to gain these new literacy skills,” he explained.
After listening to his testimony at the hearing last week, Marshall showed her support for program and the necessity of higher learning for children.
“Little children know exactly what to do, because everything is their height and they can reach it,” Marshall said of Vito’s program. “It’s designed to make them do something, and they catch on right away. Hands on working is what early childhood education’s all about.”
Councilman Steve Levin of North Brooklyn has met with Vito on a number of occasions, and is in full support his work developing a sustainable program for youth.
“I’ve always been really impressed with what he’s been able to put together,” Levin said. “The program provides opportunities for new technology to our New York City school children in an environment that I think is really bringing the experience to them in a way they don’t often get in the four walls of their school.”