Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA), Homewood Children’s Village (HCV) and Carnegie Mellon University, CS Pathways Programs announce a new partnership to expand the STEM skills in youth. With many of the largest technology companies opening offices in Pittsburgh, new tech start-ups and the unfortunate inequities in STEM education that persist in the region, three leading STEM program providers are joining forces to develop STEM Teen Ambassadors, a program aimed at disrupting these inequities by training teens to teach K-8 students about science, technology, engineering and math in the out of school time space. In addition, teens get exposure to leadership skill building, career readiness training and can earn wages and micro-credentials. Dr. Lisa Abel-Palmieri, President & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania says, “our region has a booming STEM economy and we want to ensure that all young people not only gain exposure but skills to compete for these jobs of the future. This new partnership allows us to take an active part at disrupting the inequities through an innovative model that we hope can be replicated across our region.”

A significant barrier to STEM education is the lack of sufficient educators with the confidence to lead inquiry-based STEM coursework in a culturally competent way. Both the Homewood Children’s Village and Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania will train and support the STEM Teen Ambassadors with Carnegie Mellon CS Pathways Programs providing the seed funding to get the initiative started as well as research support. STEM Teen Ambassadors will receive virtual training, led by Christine Nguyen, BGCWPA Director of STEM Education that prepares them to teach lesson modules to younger children who participate in programming at either non-profit. These teens will form the teaching backbone of a summer experience, set to pilot in 2021. BGCWPA & HCV will also develop a STEM exposure curriculum meant for the out of school time space focused on providing culturally relevant pedagogy for youth. CRP, a teaching and curriculum development framework coined by Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings in the early 1990s, has three fundamental pillars—academic achievement, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. These three pillars work in tandem with one another—in other words, a culturally relevant educator cannot focus on one pillar without also inherently focusing on the others. This initiative will provide students with the type of education they not only deserve but are entitled to that recognizes and celebrates their lived experiences, culture and identity. Walter Lewis, President & CEO of Homewood Children’s Village shares, “We are excited about this partnership. For us, this is ultimately about preparing youth from our communities to become the next generation of STEM leaders.”

During the pilot period, teens, especially teens of color, can apply to form an inaugural Ambassador cohort. Teens will participate in approximately 2-3 hours of training weekly from March – mid June to gain the skills necessary to take the lead for the summer experience. In mid-June, teens will have the opportunity to expand their career readiness skills and shift from training to working, at a rate of pay that recognizes the skills they gained through training. Upon completion of the inaugural program, Ambassadors will participate in reflecting about the successes and opportunities for improvement for future iterations of the program and for program replication and expansion.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA)

Since 1888, Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania (BGCWPA) has served over 250,000 local youth as one of the largest, most comprehensive out of school providers in both Allegheny and Somerset counties. As a leader in mentoring, academic enrichment, youth workforce development and recreation programming, BGCWPA has stepped up to meet the needs and demands of our communities during COVID-19 and beyond serving over 12,000 youth and families through our programs and services. By offering all day learning hubs, before school, after school, specialty STEM and arts, virtual and home delivery programs, BGCWPA has provided the 70% single parent population with the ability to keep working and feel more economically stable. BGCWPA has taken the challenges of 2020 head on by addressing issues such as food insecurities and academic gaps with members increasing their math scores by an average of 29% and reading scores by 24% last year. Help us continue to do #WhatEverItTakes for thousands of local youth! Learn more at bgcwpa.org or by following @bgcwpa on social media.

About Homewood Children’s Village

It takes a village to raise a child, support families, and transform a community. Homewood Children’s Village (HCV) works to improve the lives of Homewood children while simultaneously reweaving the fabric of the community in which they live. Formally established in 2010, HCV is a 501c3 that serves children, families, and the community by breaking down the social and economic barriers to success. Through collaboration, engagement, advocacy, and research, HCV offers a continuum of direct services and learning support for children and their families from cradle to career, working diligently to address the complex challenges facing Homewood’s youth. HCV realizes this mission through a child-centered model that is designed to provide support from cradle to career. HCV is the lead partner agency for Homewood Community Schools (Faison, Lincoln, and Westinghouse). And with the help of many partners, HCV offers academic, social, and health programming to children, families, schools, and the community.

HCV also provides programming for families and adults centered on the core belief that parents are children’s first teachers, and research suggests that increasing adults’ capacity can improve child outcomes. We connect families to resources that include continued education, job training, and anti-poverty and leadership programs. The ultimate goal for this multi-generational (2Gen) programming approach is to support families towards self-determination, physical, and economic well-being, which provides the foundation for self-sufficiency. When families thrive, children succeed.

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