Engaging in STEM Where We Live

Some public housing authorities (PHAs) are at the forefront of communities that are adopting place-based STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives, involving family members from preschoolers to adults, and creating opportunities to learn that are life-wide and lifelong.

Increasing exposure to and engagement in STEM learning outside of formal classroom settings is increasingly viewed as key to turning on more young people to STEM studies, and to addressing the equity gaps between high- and low-resourced families, schools, and communities. Recently the Department of Education released a Dear Colleague Letter to help state and local education agencies and their partners better understand how to use Federal funds to support innovative STEM education strategies to address equity goals.

The PHAs featured here, representing over 31,091 residents, with an average household income of $11,109, are part of communities participating in the SEED (STEM, Energy and Economic Development) initiative, supported in part by the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education (ED), and Energy (DOE). See a previous blog on the SEED sites.  In a three month period last fall, these PHAs have documented 138 STEM-related activities and training that have reached over 1,200 residents.

  • The PHA of Tampa, FL was awarded a WaterStar award for their facility’s water
    Tampa Public Housing award from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

    Photo courtesy of the Tampa Housing Authority.

    conservation work in partnership with Southwest Florida Water Management District. This PHA is part of the Tampa Bay STEM Ecosystem, one of 27 cities nationwide selected to implement a collaboration supported by STEM Funders Network, which also supports informal STEM learning opportunities.

  • In Cleveland OH, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, with support from the Cleveland Public Library, kicked off its local ConnectHome efforts, branded Cleveland Connects, which will provide broadband equipment and tablets and digital literacy training to approximately 350 students in afterschool programs. The PHA also used the opportunity of the school district’s spring break to coordinate a STEM Week that involved the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum, the Girl Scouts, and 4-H providing learning activities for over 60 children at each event.

  • The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) is establishing the Sun Valley EcoDistrict as a 501(c)3 entity, to lead the
    Denver PHA rocket launch

    Photo courtesy of Denver Housing Authority.

    redevelopment of a large area in the center of the city to green and energy efficient standards. As part of this development, the PHA is rolling out a pilot employment program funded by the city and the Office of Economic Development. This project will assist in linking training opportunities for residents with employment opportunities in targeted industries. Additionally, DHA is planning a STREAM (STEM + Art) event to build on the many local STEM partnerships that have been cultivated. To date, 13 STEM partnerships have been created in the Sun Valley neighborhood with agencies like 4-H Tech Wizards, PC’s for the People, SVYC, Fresh Starts, InkMonster, Hope in the City, GreenWay Foundation, Denver Museum, Pop Art Culture, Glen’s Kitchen, DUG, U.S. 20/20, and iReady.

Learn more about informal STEM education and energy literacy in a series of Energy is Everywhere webinars. Sign up for future webinars and access archived prior events.