Mel King

South End Technology Center @ Tent City
Purpose Prize Fellow 2006

Enabling people to become producers of knowledge and sharers of ideas through technology

Educator and poet Mel King, 77, founded the South End Technology Center @ Tent City in Boston in 1997 to provide access to technology and technological training to those who had been excluded from the technological revolution. King had always been interested in helping youth in the neighborhoods of Boston and began to think of using technology as a catalyst for positive community change. He created the Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn program in 2002 to provide teenagers meaningful paid work and an education experience at MIT. After their own training, the student-teachers teach younger people in summer technology camps throughout Boston. Last year youth teachers exposed nearly 300 kids aged 8-13 to six different emerging technologies: robotics, animation and game-programming, web design tools, videography, solar and hydrogen fuel cell energy, and digital fabrication. Working with MIT students, youth teachers also design projects that apply several technologies to address problems in their communities. Students from the program have gone on to study science and engineering in college and have returned as program mentors.