The 2021/2022 “Upshift Gyumri: Teen Involvement in Technology” program has kicked off with a 4-day Bootcamp. The program provides inclusive tech courses for teenagers aged 12-18 and young people with disabilities aged 12-24, who live in the Shirak region. 

For the next 6 months, the participants will be learning Web Programming and Quality Assurance, Animation, UI/UX design, and a range of non-technological skills – all designed to help them enter the labor market. All beneficiaries of the program are young people with disabilities.

At the end of the courses, the participants will be able to get an internship in IT companies and carry out community development programs with the help of the skills they have acquired in practice.

Upshift Gyumri is organized and implemented by the Gyumri Technology Center, and financed by UNICEF and the European Union. The GTC was established in 2013 by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation together with the Armenian Government and the World Bank. Now, 8 years later, the center features over 25 tech companies that employ more than 200 experts and service 150 (and counting) international clients.

The Upshift Gyumri program carries a special meaning for the city of Gyumri and for all of Armenia’s regions, given the importance of promoting tech education there. Armed with skills that are highly demanded in the modern world and can be acquired fairly quickly, young Armenians in the regions will have better opportunities in the labor market and make a bigger contribution to the development of their native towns and villages.

The program is already bearing fruit, as the participants are working on a number of initiatives in relevant fields such as tourism and environment. Here are the initiatives that have sprung up so far in the Bootcamp, with respective fields of application.

Spirit of Gyumri (Tourism)

The idea is to create QR codes to be placed on old buildings in Gyumri. The codes will enable the users to see the buildings restored through animation and learn about the buildings online to find out when they were built, who designed them, and a lot more.

Khorata/Խորատա (Blogging)

Khorata wants to create a YouTube channel for charity and entertainment. Here is how the channel is to work: the Khorata team will find famous Gyumri natives and offer them a challenge, and if they fail to complete it, they will make a donation to the channel. At the end of the season, Khorata will transfer the accumulated donations to an orphanage or allocate them to cover the needs of a child with disabilities.

Volunteers Everywhere/Կամավորներն ամենուրեք (Design)

The idea is to create a platform where people of different professions will find internships and volunteer jobs. The ultimate goal of the team is to unite all volunteers throughout Armenia.

TsoLogo/ԾոԼոգո (Tourism)

The TsoLogo team is working on a platform that will feature various logos, stickers, and any tool for design.

Global Hospital’s Guide (Service) 

The idea is to create a program where patients can find information about hospitals, wards, and doctors of Gyumri, as well as learn about their professional experience and see their schedules.

Bookology (Environment) 

Bookology aims to establish a mobile library of modern and foreign-language literature. This library will move between popular spots, and the process of taking and returning the books will be monitored via the library website.

Ecolution (Environment) 

This team wants to create an online map of garbage recycling points, as well as restaurants, buildings, and streets that are adapted for people with disabilities.

Arvestot(Digital art)

The idea of this initiative is a website, where talented but yet unknown artists from Gyumri will have their works featured in animated versions. The website will cooperate with museums, enabling visitors to see descriptions and animated versions of the works of art via QR codes.

Online Self-Learning (Distance learning)

This online platform is to feature educational videos in Armenian and solve a real-life issue that has become even more relevant in Armenia’s regions since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the new platform, self-education will become easier and more accessible.

Lighthouse (Tourism)

Lighthouse wants to create a platform to present all apartments for rent in Gyumri. With the help of the map, potential tenants will be able to see all available options of the apartments for rent in different price categories in all districts of the city.

Each of these ideas has strong potential and aims to overcome some of the challenges in Gyumri and in Armenian regions in general, which target especially people with disabilities. The initiatives created within the program have set as their objective to make the solutions accessible to the visually impaired, people with hearing issues and other kinds of disabilities.

We wish all 10 teams the best of luck!