COAF SMART

Lori COAF SMART Center Opening May 27, 2018

Today, too many rural Armenians are held back by a lack of access to resources and disconnection from the globalized world. COAF SMART — the world’s most innovative initiative for the advancement of rural communities — is providing Armenia’s village youth with resources and opportunities that enable them to pursue their intellectual curiosities, and push the boundaries of whatever fields of study compel them. SMART will take our experiences of working in the villages for the last fifteen years, and spread our work out across the Armenian countryside to all 900+ villages. In May 2018 our first COAF SMART CENTER will open in Lori Province. Learn more about the SMART Center and COAF SMART below:

COAF SMART is the world’s most innovative initiative for the advancement of rural communities. COAF SMART is novel, holistic, and replicable approach to rural revitalization that focuses on providing modern  technological resources, encouraging idea collaboration and maintaining the highest quality instruction standards for critical educational competencies. Our staff, volunteers and partners work closely with local leaders to identify areas topics and subjects where their is the greatest need for resources, and the challenges with the highest priority.  By connecting villages to global best practices in education, health, arts and sciences, renewable energy and whatever other subjects are important locally, COAF SMART provides comprehensive solutions for rural Armenians.

COAF SMART’s ambition is to instill inspiration and pride in village communities, by building capacities and providing access to people and ideas. A simple internet connection and other global technologies can make all the difference for a resource-deprived villager, who has the will to achieve, but is too often held back by the burdens of poverty.  We believe that COAF SMART can help reverse the disastrous effects that 100 years of struggle has wrought on the Armenian people, and provide rural Armenians with access to opportunities achieve their unique potentials.

Proficiency in English is central to COAF SMART as the global language that will help to connect Armenia’s rural population with the global community. The objective is to accelerate the acquisition of knowledge across a diverse set of disciplines to jump start the advancement of these neglected communities, lifting the constraints created by limited resources and lack of physical access.

COAF’s first SMART Center opens May 27, 2018 in Lori, a region in Armenia’s mountainous north that still struggles from effects of the devastating earthquake of 1988. The Lori COAF SMART Center will provide a place and space for designing, innovation, and producing. Located just three minutes from the region’s new M6 highway, this first COAF SMART Center will be accessible to over 250,000 people of Lori region. COAF friend and innovative architect Paul Kaloustian designed the 14,000 sq.ft building, which will operate as a dynamic “idea acquisition and exchange hub,” to invigorate the promising, under-supported children of Armenia.

The COAF SMART model is designed to be replicated throughout rural Armenia–empowering a highly resourceful population and instilling pride. In the next ten years, we are implementing a plan to build more COAF SMART Centers to serve regions in need across Armenia.  Every COAF SMART Center will offer a range of new and proven programs, with access to digital libraries and resources in robotics & IT, language trainings, arts and music, entrepreneurship, organic agriculture, economic sustainability, and many others. Each COAF SMART Center, like the first in Lori Marz, will develop programs and unique initiatives that address the most pressing local issues.

When a COAF SMART Center is not immediately accessible everyday, a COAF SMART Rooms can bring state-of-the-art technology into the everyday classroom. Already established in several schools around the Lori region, SMART Rooms connect more remote communities to the SMART Center, and connects villagers with one another and the world through modern high speed internet connections and the latest teaching technologies. Check out images of the renovated spaces, personal computer workstations, and interactive presentation display tools in some of our operational SMART Rooms  located near the Lori SMART Center.  

As future COAF SMART Centers are built in regions beyond Lori, COAF Smart Rooms will also be established in surrounding villages that are within an hour’s drive of a SMART CENTER.  These rooms will enable connectivity during winter months when road travel can be extremely difficult, ensuring that collaboration between neighboring students and communities flows freely and efficiently.

SMART Rooms are accessible not just to rural youth, but to all members of a surrounding community. COAF offers community educational programs for vital competencies, like English language instruction, as well as offerings tailored to each local community’s needs and resources. We work with community professionals in medicine, social services and other specialized fields, to conduct continuing education trainings, classes and expert discussions using our SMART Rooms.

In addition, as part of our ongoing humanitarian outreach to villages near conflict zones, COAF SMART Safe Rooms provide secure shelter from shelling and other potential use of weapons in areas along the border with Azerbaijan. In the Tavush region for instance where COAF has built 2 SMART Safe Rooms, children and their families are under a daily threat of a flare in hostilities. COAF SMART Safe rooms are providing safe spaces and areas of refuge for children and adults living in battle-torn areas.

With your help we can build more SMART Rooms and bring a secure future to Armenia’s village youth.

What is COAF SMART?
COAF SMART is a novel, comprehensive model for rural development that creates opportunities for rural communities to thrive by opening access to resources. The three pillars of the COAF SMART concept are: providing the newest technological resources, encouraging idea collaboration and maintaining the highest quality teaching for critical educational competencies.

Who will benefit from the COAF SMART?
Children and their families in rural communities will benefit from the COAF SMART concept as they seek to improve their lives amidst economic hardships, limited educational opportunities and a lack of available resources. The emphasis is helping youth, but COAF SMART is meant to transform regions, in turn helping every generation of a community with programs and interventions that reach across demographic groups. As rural communities grow, the positive impact will flow throughout Armenia.

Why build COAF SMART Centers?
COAF SMART Centers will empower youth in rural communities, helping to stem the “brain drain” of emigration witnessed in struggling communities throughout Armenia. Providing rural communities with modern technologies and educational experiences can create lasting transformation and development. This drive for excellence will create dynamic economic, social and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Where is the first COAF SMART Center located?
Our first SMART Center located on a campus of 50 acres in Armenia’s northern Lori region is strategically located in the center of an area still suffering the effects of the 1988 earthquake that claimed 25,000 lives. Opening May 27, 2018, this first COAF SMART Center will be accessible to almost 250,000 villagers from around the region.

What will COAF SMART Centers be used for?
COAF SMART Centers will feature both tailored new offerings as well as proven highly effective programs implemented by COAF over the last decade, including: digital libraries, multi-sensory programs for disabled youth, entrepreneurship training, civic engagement, apprenticeships, health education screenings and environmental and economic programs.

How can I or my organization get involved with the COAF SMART initiative?
We welcome like-minded organizations, businesses, supporters and donors to help us spread the COAF SMART initiative across Armenia. To contact the COAF staff about a collaboration, please email info@coafkids.org. To donate, please click here.