Technology education in inner-city neighborhoods

In the ‘good ole’ days it was the church that took care of the neighborhood.

Churches were utilized for after-school programs, community meetings, worshiping, counseling and learning. One could always find church doors open 24/7.

Today, family priorities such as careers and children usually come before going to church. St. Luke AME church, located at 152nd Street on Amsterdam Avenue in Harlem is going back to those good ole days, by offering ‘education’ to residents’ right in the ‘hood.

“TCI (College of Technology) was looking for a center to have a Harlem site,” says Rev. Melvin Wilson, executive director of Faith Based Initiatives for TCI College. “We developed a partnership with them because I and St. Luke strongly believe in education. “We made accommodations in our office building for TCI to have some classroom space. It was as simple as that.”

Presently, TCI is operating as an “extension site” in the community Harlem, Rev. Wilson added. “An application has been made through the state department of education to have this site formally recognized has an extension site,” he said.

“Higher education institutions have been leaving Harlem over the years. I see this as a critical opportunity that an institution has decided to come back into the community. For community residents it gives access to higher education with no excuses to say ‘I don’t have any opportunities’ to improve myself’.

“To have this (TCI) in the community and to have people come to take advantage of it is critical.

“I have invited every clergy person in Harlem and some students to hear about TCI and hopefully get on board in educating our communities.”

TCI offers 21 associate degree programs, however baccalaurean studies are also currently being considered by the state department of education. “We are doing something different and special with the religious and community leadership in Harlem,” said Dr. John McGrath, chief executive officer, TCI College of Technology.

“When I first meet Pastor Wilson I saw his passion for education was great toward improving the community.

Tonight we have invited pastors throughout the community to have dinner and hear about the opportunities for students in Harlem and Washington Heights and surrounding areas to go to college here.

Location is important, some people with demanding schedules may find it difficult to go to our main campus (across from Penn Station in midtown, Manhattan), but here, it is in the community. It serves the community and we have made a large financial investment here. We believe that through higher education people can enhance their qualifications that can help them find jobs.”

Presently TCI has four classrooms plus administrative space at St. Luke’s administration facility next door to the church. The four-story building will offer classes day and night, giving local residents no excuses for getting an education.

Keeping with old traditions, St. Luke is so committed to helping residents go to college, the church will provide mentors, a learning center where students can go and study. St. Luke staff and TCI faculty will walk students through the process. Students can begin taking classes in Harlem and later continue at the main campus in midtown.

Accredited by the New York Board of Regents, and Middle States Commission on Higher Education, TCI is considered to be one of the best accredited colleges in the country. According to TCI officials, less than 10 two-year private colleges are accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

TCI is the second largest private two-year college in the tri-state area.

TCI will also open up a site in Brooklyn, Bedford Stuyvesant at Restoration Plaza. Classes begin there in January. Classes have already begun in Harlem, but residents still have time to register for January classes at both sites until January 3, 2012.

“It is the first time in 100 years that the college has actually branched away from our midtown location,” said Dr. McGrath. “We hope that there will be significant enrollment here so we can grow. The more we grow the more space we will be taking. This is an opportunity to come to TCI and start your Associate Dgree.”

More from Around NYC