Gordon Medenica (pictured above,) CEO Northstar New Jersey, speaks at the podium in the gym at the CYO of Mercer County on S. Broad St. in Trenton, New Jersey before the official opening of the first Northstar NJ After School Advantage Computer Lab. At left is Tom Mladenetz, Executive Director, CYO of Mercer County and at right, Senator Shirley Turner. Michael Mancuso/The Times
By Nicole Mulvaney / The Times of Trenton
More than 100 students from 12 Mercer County schools make their way to the Catholic Youth Organization of Mercer County on South Broad Street every day to participate in arts and crafts classes, play on the outside playground and get homework help through the group’s after-school program.
But the organization’s computers, located in an upstairs lab, were more than 10 years old, prompting officials to apply for a grant that would help them revitalize the space.
With the assistance of Northstar New Jersey, the management services company that provides sales and marketing support to the New Jersey Lottery through a Growth Services Agreement with New Jersey and Department of Treasury, the lab got a complete makeover this winter as volunteers replaced the old machines with 14 Dell flat-screen computers and added new printers, desks, speakers, headphones, educational software, flooring and a fresh coat of paint.
“The state lottery has a slogan: ‘Give Your Dreams a Chance,’ and now Northstar is giving a chance to these kids to succeed and do better academically,” CYO Executive Director Tom Mladenetz said. “We are very pleased to be a beneficiary of their generosity.”
Executives from Northstar joined state Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence), Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes, Mladenetz and other local officials yesterday to unveil the $30,000 refurbished lab as about a dozen children quickly settled in front of the new computers to play games with headphones clinging to their ears.
The CYO applied for the grant with Northstar two years ago, and Mladenetz said officials were ecstatic when they recently learned they were chosen for the lab renovation.
“The kids were just thrilled to know what was coming,” he said. “It was almost like waiting for Christmas morning.”
The South Broad Street facility operates out of a more than 90-year-old former movie theater, and the computer lab renovation was a much needed project, Mladenetz said.
The CYO also operates facilities on East State Street in the city and two others in Ewing and Yardville.
In addition to after-school programs, it also offers preschool programs and summer camps for area children.
The Northstar New Jersey After School Advantage program began in 1999 through the GTECH Corp., a company that provides technology solutions to regulated gaming markets.
The program provides educational opportunities to children by donating new computers, printers, software, furniture and volunteer hours to nonprofit organizations that sponsor after-school programs in areas where Northstar has offices.
The After School Advantage program aims to narrow the digital divide to grant more children access to computers and other educational opportunities, Northstar CEO Gordon Medenica said.
“These computer labs are designed to provide urban children aged 5 to 15 with a meaningful but fun learning experience during those critical after-school hours in a safe environment,” he said. “Northstar hopes to increase children’s interest in careers in computers and provide them with the necessary tools to help them become more competitive in school and in today’s job market.”
Click here to read from this article’s source.