If you’ve ever had to pass a CPR class, the idea of saving the life of a distressed rubber mannequin isn’t new to you. Imagine if that life-size model was capable of teaching even more than just chest compressions. With a tech suite of medical equipment and monitors, that rubber model stops looking like a lifeless victim and starts looking like something else entirely — a ticket to med school. A program at the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland is hoping to provide that ticket to local African American students.

The African American population in the US is 13% but in the medical field only 4% of doctors are black. As a hub of medical research and innovation, the city of Pittsburgh takes an active interest in correcting this disparity. How? By using the same cutting edge resources and knowledge that make Pittsburgh hospitals some of the best facilities in the nation and using those resources to teach local minority students about medicine. The program, Journey to Medicine, focuses specifically on the education and proliferation of black men into the medical industry.  Funded through Heinz Endowments in collaboration with Heinz’s African-American Men and Boys Task Force, the program includes 27 boys in the seventh and eighth grades and 15 more students will be added in January.

Students meet twice a month for workshops and simulations. Using medical equipment and simulation technology, the students have a change to practice what they’ve learned by acting out medical scenarios. They also receive tutoring in the areas of science, math, and English to create a holistic learning experience.  “Not only do we try to encourage and engage, but we’re also trying to make sure they have all the tools and training they need to get into medical schools,” Dr. Anita Edwards, the program’s director, recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

So often, the discussion of digital learning begins and ends with classroom tools. The Journey to Medicine program shows how a digital boost outside of the classroom can augment learning and even change career outlooks for students. It’s just one more example of organizations, funders and educators working together to invest in Pittsburgh’s future.