SEED: Coalitions for Community Growth

The following paragraph is excerpted from the Clinton Global Foundation’s announcement:

Girls from the Tampa Public Housing Authority get involved with a project at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The SEED Coalition is inspiring young minds with STEM activities in energy efficiency. Here, girls from the Tampa Public Housing Authority get involved with a project at the Museum of Science and Industry. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the U.S. Departments of Education and Energy, committed to launch SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development): Coalitions for Community Growth, a place-based initiative that will connect public housing residents across the United States to STEM education and jobs. Leveraging federal investments and national partnerships, SEED will create local coalitions of public-private partners to launch or expand programs that provide access to energy literacy, STEM learning and workforce development opportunities for public housing residents. These opportunities will prepare them for living wage jobs in the energy and STEM fields, including those created by federal investments in infrastructure upgrades and energy retrofits at Public Housing Authorities (PHAs). In partnership with local PHAs, SEED will be piloted in five communities: Cleveland (Cuyahoga County), Denver, District of Columbia, San Antonio, and Tampa, with the goal of expanding to 20 cities by 2018. Through this initiative, 8,000 youth in public housing will get access to STEM education; 1,000 residents will receive STEM workforce training, and 1,000 will obtain employment. See more at: https://www.clintonfoundation.org/clinton-global-initiative/commitments/seed-coalitions-community-growth#sthash.6PL2Ju3o.dpuf

What does this look like in a community?

In Denver, the Housing Authority is seizing the opportunity of a redevelopment plan for the Sun Valley neighborhood – a light industrial section along the river and bordered by the football stadium – to create a Sun Valley EcoDistrict to realize SEED commitments. As the city, the PHA, and strategic partners conduct an employer needs survey and plan the five-year construction commitment, the PHA is already engaging housing authority residents and STEM partners in capacity building and awareness projects. The PHA is developing certificate-track Academies in high-demand careers such as construction, food service, and light industrial, to be offered on-site by workforce development and public school CTE partners. As part of Denver’s concurrent ConnectHome commitments, the City of Denver donated ChromeBooks to the neighborhood elementary school so all classrooms have state-of-the-art equipment and a non-profit partner, PC’s for Kids, distributed over 100 refurbished computers to youth in grades 3, 4, and 5 at no cost and offered low-cost broadband access so that families have Internet access and devices in their homes.

In Tampa, the SEED effort is branded as “SEEDS for a Sustainable Tampa”. The Tampa Housing Authority is in partnership with University of South Florida and Lowry Park Zoo to coordinate water treatment and energy conservation with a goal of constructing a rain garden on site that will offer ongoing research and teaching opportunities. The local Museum of Science and Industry is in partnership with the Housing Authority to enact a “STEM Explorers” initiative. A highlight was a STEM Mentoring Café event that brought young housing residents to the Museum to engage in hands-on explorations with STEM professionals from NASA Kennedy Space Center, the Lowry Park Zoo, Veterans Affairs, and Tampa Electric Company. Read about the STEM Mentoring Café event here.  Tampa is also a ConnectHome site, building a Smart Living Community that places a home computer with internet access in each apartment as if it were an essential amenity like a refrigerator.

In Cleveland, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) SEED Initiative kicked-off with an agency-wide Earth Day celebration, reaching more than 200 children and more than 2,000 public housing residents.  Among many initiatives, CMHA completed a SEED Summer Youth Enrichment Program consisting of STEM-related field trips. Through its ConnectHome commitment, branded Cleveland Connects, CMHA is working with local partners to increase internet and device access for public housing families across the agency to close the digital gap.  CMHA is building a coalition with the local school district, community college, Case Western Reserve University, and the Great Lakes Science Center with the goal of identifying STEM opportunities and creating programming that extends STEM education to an underserved population.  Through an overlap of SEED, the 21st Century Youth Program, and the Jobs Plus Initiative, the Housing Authority opened the “SEED Center,” at its Outhwaite site, which hosts workforce development activities and STEM education programs.  CMHA is conducting workforce development outreach to public housing residents at two target sites to connect public housing residents to training and job opportunities in local high-demand careers such as healthcare and manufacturing.