The Project Next Generation (PNG) offers grant funding to public libraries for establishing educational, after-school programs that not only provide access to computers, software and various technology devices, but also hire mentors who are crucial to helping students develop self-confidence and pride in their newly acquired skills.
The library reaches out to community groups and organizations as well as individuals to provide access to technology. While the aim is to reach students with limited access to technology, the Decatur Public Library’s PNG program is open to all youth up to 19 years of age.
PNG programs encourage personal growth and the educational development of at risk students through the use of mentors, technology and library based group projects. The goal of PNG is to bridge the digital divide by making recent technologies accessible to students who have limited access to computers. In a similar manner, the program strives to provide a safe and friendly environment filled with positive role models. The mentors involved with the program foster the development of self-confidence and pride in their students by helping them gain the knowledge and skills necessary for future educational and professional success.
The Illinois State Library will fund PNG programs statewide that support the following outcomes:
- Increase the confidence and personal growth of students as they achieve success through project-based learning.
- Reinforce abilities and learning through technology-based experiences for participating students who might not otherwise have access.
- Enhance the ability of students to deal with life experiences, become critical thinkers and prepare for the future.
In recent years, Project Next Generation has helped provide the library with new computers, iPads, 3-D printers and virtual reality gear among the other technology used by PNG users.