Phipps Neighborhoods—one of New York City’s most venerable social service providers—announced today that 85 Bronx students have successfully completed their STEAM Club program for the 2021 school year.
As part of a two-year grant provided by Verizon in support of digital inclusion under Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental, and social advancement, Phipps Neighborhoods launched this new after school program during the winter of 2021, enabling dozens of young Bronx scholars to increase their digital literacy skills at seven Bronx sites across Soundview, West Farms, and Melrose.
Through our digital inclusion initiative, Bronx Elementary and Middle School students were offered free, hands-on, and virtual Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) programming, providing an opportunity for them to learn new applications and advance their interests across a range of disciplines. STEAM Scholars honed digital literacy skills by engaging in weekly 90-minute coding, engineering, and 3D design using Scratch and Tinkercad with facilitators from our lead partner, MakerState. The program has also launched our first tech hotline, providing real-time support for program staff, youth, and caregivers.
“Bridging the digital divide through access to digital literacy programs is crucial to the long-term success of our students,” said Andre D. White, Executive Director & CEO of Phipps Neighborhoods. “Programs such as our STEAM Club provide our young people with not only the 21st Century skills they need to succeed in higher grades but the inspiration to explore promising career paths in STEAM. We are grateful for Verizon’s support in creating this program, inspiring the next generation of tech leaders right here in the Bronx.”
“Encouraging youth to explore and participate in STEAM programming helps prepare them for today’s digital world and is an important part of our digital inclusion efforts,” said April Horton, Director State Government Affairs, Verizon. “After a successful first year of this initiative, we look forward to supporting more students in the Bronx community through our continued partnership with Phipps Neighborhoods.”
A 2020 report from the Citizen’s Committee for Children found that nearly 19% of Bronx households lack internet access. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the digital divide for families lacking resources to purchase efficient technology and reliable internet connection. Phipps Neighborhoods staff worked to bring the STEAM Club to seven sites in the Bronx, including two of our Cornerstone Community Centers located in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) facilities. As New York embarks on its path to recovery after school learning programs like the STEAM Club are increasingly important to ensure young Bronxites are equipped with the skills and knowledge to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.