First Intel Computer Clubhouse launched in Middle East

The Intel Corporation, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Welfare Association (WA) — a Palestinian non-profit foundation — officially launched the Intel Computer Clubhouse in Ramallah, the first in the Arab Middle East.

The Intel Computer Clubhouse is an after-school program that provides youth, ages 10 to 18, access to high-tech equipment, professional software and adult mentors to help them develop the self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning they need to be successful in the future. Youth visiting the Computer Clubhouse learn by doing. They create digital artwork, produce their own music CDs, write and edit their own short movies, and design websites. The Intel Computer Clubhouse Network is a project of Boston’s Museum of Science in collaboration with the MIT Media Laboratory.

“The Intel Computer Clubhouse is an extraordinary opportunity for the young people of Ramallah,” said Rafiq Husseini, Deputy Director General for the Welfare Association. “Not only will Palestinian youth learn critical technology skills, they will have a safe place to interact with one another, have an outlet for their creativity and gain valuable insight as to their own worth and future prospects.”

The Ramallah Clubhouse has been welcoming as many as 60 young people a day, many of whom come from a disadvantaged area of Ramallah, as well as a number of nearby refugee camps.

With adult mentors from nearby universities providing support, young people have the chance to develop their skills in communications, creative expression, and personal productivity. Once a week, the Clubhouse is reserved for girls only, giving them a chance to explore their interests among themselves, in keeping with their cultural traditions.

Added Bill Reese, Chief Operating Officer of IYF: “Key to the successful launch of the Intel Computer Clubhouse has been the strong multi-sector partnerships forged between Intel, Welfare, IYF and the local community. Being able to draw on the expertise of a local foundation like WA, with its deep knowledge of the cultural traditions of the region and sensitivity to local needs, is a critical element in ensuring this initiative has a real impact on the lives of young Palestinians.” The Ramallah Clubhouse is an integral part of IYF’s IT4Youth program in the West Bank. IT4Youth is run in partnership with WA and receives major support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The new facility in Ramallah is one of more than 70 Intel Computer Clubhouses worldwide. In the United States, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network now reaches 14 states in addition to Washington, D.C., and is active in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Philippines, South Africa, and Taiwan.

“The Intel Computer Clubhouses are ‘invention workshops’ where youth can express themselves through their own interests to become designers, not just consumers, of computer-based creations,” said Gilbert Lacroix, Intel President for the Middle East and North Africa. “Clubhouse youth love using professional software such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. It allows them to be creative, explore their world, and gain valuable skills for tomorrow’s workplace.”

An evaluation panel of Intel employees, community representatives, and educators selected the Welfare Association to host the Intel Computer Clubhouse because of its strategic direction, commitment to technology learning, and support of underserved youth.

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