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March 14, 2020,

To: All current Empow Studios customers

Dear Empow Families,

We are writing to provide you with an update on our transition to virtual programs which will begin on Monday, March 16th. 

Yesterday, the Center for Disease Control advised schools that closings for at least eight weeks might be the most effective way to contain the coronavirus. We do not know if schools will heed this advice, but we are preparing for that long-term closure contingency which will require all of us to consider how our children can continue to learn while at home. 

We have received many questions from parents regarding our virtual programs which will begin operation this upcoming Monday, March 16th. Please send any questions you have to info@empow.me. We will be reaching out directly to families currently enrolled in programming in our studios about how they can access our virtual sessions.

We encourage all families to register for the informational webinars on either Wednesday, March 18th at 7pm and Friday, March 20th at 9am

Meanwhile, many people are wondering if they have the necessary computers and software for our virtual programs. Below please find answers to those questions as well as the ways we are prepared to help current Empow families transition smoothly to our virtual programs.

Q: What computer hardware, software and other technology is required to participate in Empow’s virtual programs?

Hardware: If you have a Windows desktop or laptop that you’ve used for a virtual meeting (like zoom, gotomeeting or hangouts) or for facetime calls, you can pretty safely assume that you have the hardware and bandwidth our programs require. Those with a similarly capable Mac will also be able to participate generally, though students will have a slightly smaller choice of course options; we have enough materials to keep most students actively engaged in our online STEM curriculum for years so this limitation will be unlikely to be an issue for students over the next few weeks. Chromebooks and tablets will not work. A more technical hardware specification list is available here. More details on Mac vs Windows program options can be understood by reading the Application Software section below.  

Talent Box: Empow’s online curriculum and learning management system, Talent Box, is accessible and fully functional on any web browser. Students will need their log-in names and passwords. These have been provided to all students and parents but as a courtesy we will be emailing a reminder to all parents.  

Application Software. Empow teaches its students to code, create movies, build video games, architect buildings, design in Minecraft and more in industry-standard software. Of the 29 applications we teach, 22 are available for free, 2 additional ones have lengthy free trials, and only five require purchase. Most students only learn a handful of these applications each year. Your child will know which applications they have been learning most recently and which they would like to learn if you review this list with them. Follow the links provided there for directions on how to download or create access to each application. Downloading one or two should be sufficient to start.

Virtual Instruction. We use a combination of applications to support interaction between the instructors and students. To keep things as simple as possible, this coming week we will only be using Zoom meetings in part because, as an industry standard for virtual meetings, many professionals are familiar with it and already have it on their computers. Instructions on how to download and install Zoom are available here (see “Zoom Client for Meetings” at the top). If you already have Zoom installed, we still suggest that you create a separate free account for your child. 

Q. Can Empow help me if I need technical help setting up my computer or participating in Empow’s virtual programs? 

A. Yes. A. Yes. We will be providing technical support via email and phone. We can also guide you remotely through any necessary set up.  

Q: What if my family does not have the necessary kind of computer? 

Empow has a limited number of laptops which we use in our Studios which we are prepared to provide, for free for 60 days or until schools reopen, to current customers that need one in order to stay enrolled in our programs. These laptops have all of the software and hardware needed to fully participate in our virtual programs. If you are interested, please let us know at info@empow.me and we will provide additional details.

Q. How do we get started day one? 

A. All parents will receive simple log-in instructions before virtual classes begin. If you have the right hardware or have made plans with us to help you get the right hardware, you are all set. 

What additional questions do you have about our virtual programs or about virtual learning in general? Please let us know at info@empow.me

Thank you for your patience as we work round the clock to get you up and running starting on Monday. 

Stay safe,
Leonid Tunik, Founder 
Nancy Lee, Director of Program Operations
Michelle Meyer, Program Director ASC
Karen Lewis, HR Director and Administrative
James Shepard, CEO

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