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The Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area includes members from three Northern Minnesota communities: Cass Lake, Walker and Deer River.

David Northbird, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, serves as director of operations for the Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area. At the four clubs, he and other staff members find ways to integrate language and culture into all of their programming, including through technology.

The Importance of Computer & Internet Access

The Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area was one of 23 organizations to receive a ConnectedMN grant in its first round of funding, which helps to ensure students and families in rural areas have access to computing devices, critical support services and the internet. This access has been especially meaningful during the pandemic, as youth have transitioned between in-person and distance learning.

I believe our communities on and near the reservations are suffering from a lot of trauma. And a big part of healing these traumas is having our community members understand who they are and where they come from, and also feel good about that.

David Northbird, Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area

The Boys & Girls Club of the Leech Lake Area serves over 1,200 Indigenous youth ages 5-18. They have been a center for technology access for the region for a decade and are closely aligned with the area tribal government.

With a grant from ConnectedMN, a public and private partnership of organizations including the Foundation that is working on digital access across the state, the organization has boosted and upgraded existing technology-related activities with an emphasis on enhancing computer skills and remote learning. Funds were used to provide 100 laptops, 50 iPads and 50 GB data cards for each participating family.

David hopes that with access and technology advancements, they can use these tools to visually and verbally preserve their language and culture. At this Boys & Girls Club, culture is central to their work.

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