Sean Brandenburg, MSUM Youth Outreach Coordinator

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped all facets of our society in one way or another. The novel coronavirus has forced change, some in some in the most creative of ways. Minnesota State University Moorhead’s College for Kids & Teens (CFKT) summer program was no different. We pivoted to a new delivery system to continue providing enrichment programming to kids and teens in the Fargo-Moorhead area and beyond.

MSUM’s CFKT program has delivered summer programs for children over the past 20 years. To ensure students, faculty, and staff’s safety, the program took a giant leap into ‘distance learning’ for the summer of 2020.

According to Youth Outreach Coordinator Sean Brandenburg, “the discussion for the possibility of online classes started mid-March by University leadership and our program instructors. With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we believed it was in everyone’s best interest to go all-in on virtual classes for summer 2020.”

Several organizations in our community made the difficult decision to suspend or cancel extracurricular activities altogether. Brandenburg said CFKT has been a vital provider of educational programs to the community for years, and University officials believed there was a way to deliver fun, safe and fulfilling programs in the comfort of homes. These classes added flexibility to summer schedules as participants can log-in from everywhere and anywhere!

One of the fantastic things about the CFKT program is that it is very hands-on. Participants get the feel of working with clay, paint, robotics, computers and other components that encompass the College for Kids & Teens experience. In a virtual pandemic world, some signature courses were unable to translate to an online setting. This opened up the door to new creative online classes such as Stop-Motion Animation, iPad iOS Photography, Dungeons & Dragons, and more!

“Our instructors are resourceful and brainstormed other expertise or hobbies they had that could translate well to an online setting. Our staff knocked it out of the park in that regard,” Brandenburg said. This summer, the program has 10 instructors teaching nearly 12 courses a session.

The online program has also increased MSUM’s CFKT footprint to residents outside the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo community. A recent survey conducted by the program showed that approximately 20 percent of participants have been from outside the metro area.

“This has been fantastic to see, as out-of-state alumni and others have discovered the program through social media or word of mouth. They are connecting with our campus even though they cannot attend in-person classes,” Brandenburg said. 

College for Kids & Teens has a scholarship program set up to assist in the cost of registration for families that may not be able to cover the full cost of attendance. Funding for this program was made possible by Minnesota voters through grants from the Lake Region Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Culture Heritage Fund. Interested applicants can submit their scholarship requests online at the CFKT website.

Although the delivery mechanism for MSUM’s College for Kids & Teens program is unknown for Summer 2021, the University will continue to provide education courses that encourage exploration, adventure and creativity in some shape or form. If your child is interested in participating in MSUM’s College for Kids & Teens Online, there is still one week left! Visit mnstate.edu/cfkt to view the class list for the final week of classes (July 20-23) and sign up today!