Recently, Bella NYC had the opportunity to attend The National Urban Technology Center 2014 gala benefit celebrating Urban Tech’s 19 years of service connecting students and families to digital literacy, comprehensive health education and life skills that are critical to academic success. Urban Tech was joined by over 300 corporate and community leaders who have all pledged their support of the organization’s vital mission. This year’s gala was held at Three Sixty°, a gorgeous venue in TriBeCa known for its breathtaking views and spectacular food. Proceeds from the event will benefit The National Urban Technology Center and go towards supporting youth by giving them the capacity for positive behavior and academic success.
The evening began with a VIP cocktail party followed by dinner and awards ceremony, along with an exciting silent and live auction. Maurice DuBois, award winning anchor of “CBS 2 News This Morning” and the weekend edition of “CBS Evening News,” served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening alongside E! Entertainment News personality Alicia Quarles.
Countless notable celebrities and personalities have taken part in the gala including Diane Guerrero, Orange is the New Black, Anastasia Ganias, True Blood, Tamsen Fadal, PIX11 Anchor, Model Jordan Murray, Alicia Quarles, E! News, Hill Harper, Covert Affairs, Maurice DuBois, CBS 2 Anchor and Former NBA Player, John Starks.
Bella NYC had the opportunity to interview Alicia Quarles and the Founder and President of Urban Tech Judy A. Smith in order to gain insight, educate and empower the people of this great city.
Here’s what Alicia had to say;
You are one of the MC’s of this year’s Urban Tech Gala alongside Maurice DuBois. What were your thoughts when asked to take part in this inspiring event?
I did not think twice about it. Yes and yes, immediately. I helped with last year’s gala and am honored to have been asked to serve as one of the MC’s for this year’s event. Being on-air, I have a platform and a responsibility to use it to help others. Over the past year, I’ve become more involved and learned more about Urban Tech. Anything having to do with servicing youth has a soft spot in my heart. This organization brings technology to under served schools. Once you hear testimonials from students who have taken full advantage of the resources Urban Tech offers, you can’t help but to want to be involved.
Your life has taken you to many places including New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo. Is your personal street style made up of a hybrid of those influences or is it something altogether different?
My personal street style is definitely influenced by my world travels. For example, this weekend, I wore a huge copper bracelet I bought from a flea market in Dubai. I paired it with a brown YSL Muse tote my sister bought me, plus my favorite American Eagle jeans and Lucy Choi (who is based in London) flats. It’s all about the high/low and making sure I’m supporting the global fashion community. That’s why I usually post what I’m wearing on social media. People want to know how to get the look, plus I have a community which can support young designers as well as the established brands.
As someone who has succeeded at many levels, what advice do you give people thinking of striking out on their own in this modern and fast paced environment?
Do the groundwork and do your homework. There are very few shortcuts in this industry if you haven’t put in time to really study your subject and know what you are talking about/trying to do. Knowledge is something no one can take away from you. Also, build a community. You don’t get to the top on your own. You need people who have a shared vision and will support you. In turn, it is your responsibility to give back. Finally, be your authentic self. When you are “doing you,” you won’t be envious of anyone else’s success. Instead, you will cheer them on because you’ll understand all of us has something unique to offer. It’s all about finding out what that is, and going after it.
Bella also had the pleasure of chatting with Judy Smith about her work;
As founder and president of the nonprofit National Urban Technology Center, your work has focused on, among other things, the creation of products which help modernize classrooms and stimulate students through technology. What are your goals when trying to reach students with programs like the Youth Leadership Academy (YLA)?
Our goal is to reach and engage students who are not functioning in today’s classrooms and provide computer training, animation and games that are relevant to their lives, and project-based learning that prepare them for 21st century jobs and opportunities.
What insights, questions or thoughts do you hope remain with attendees of this year’s Urban Tech Gala?
Each year we hope to find people who are passionate about the work that we do and challenge them to use their resources to make a difference.
Urban Tech has now partnered with over 500 schools, 5 school districts and 200 after school program, developing over 750 computer training centers and serving over a half of million students and families since its inception. While its achievements are laudatory, what must Urban Tech focus on in the near future to continue making gains?
We need to reach young people where they spend their time on tablets and phones and increase the time that they spend on educational endeavors – not just games and texting. We have an opportunity to change the dynamics of teaching and learning in the next 10 years. It is our hope that those kids who fall behind today because they attend under-resourced schools and have little or no access to after school programs in their communities will be connected to world-class curriculum on their mobile devices at any time and any place.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL URBAN TECHNOLOGY CENTER: The National Urban Technology Center (Urban Tech), a not-for-profit educational corporation, transforms lives through the power of technology by giving youth the capacity for positive behavior and academic success. Urban Tech achieves its mission by teaching students essential life skills, and by training and coaching parents and educators to support social and emotional learning. Urban Tech’s flagship programs, The Youth Leadership Academy® (YLA) and SeedTech®, are delivered online to enhance the ability of schools and after-school programs to reach and effectively teach all students.WWW.URBANTECH.ORG.
Kimberly Davis, Honoree and Pat Bransford, Founder & President of The National Urban Technology Center