Transforming community spaces into technology learning centers for Pittsburgh youth.
Meeting Kids Where They Are
During a one-week demonstration in September 2016, The Sprout Fund worked with the City of Pittsburgh and educators from the Remake Learning Network to transform 5 city-owned recreation centers into technology-enhanced STEAM learning centers where youth learned to use technology to express their creativity, solve real-world problems, and build job-ready skills.
In response to President Obama’s 2014 call to action that “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country,” Pittsburgh joined a national movement to transform underutilized municipal assets like recreation centers into youth-centered, technology-enabled, maker learning spaces. For people who lack reliable internet service and access to technology, these “Rec2Tech” transformations can increase digital literacy and cultivate skills connected to future employment.
With support from lead sponsor Comcast NBCUniversal, Rec2Tech Pittsburgh demonstrated how partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can work together to start to address the digital divide and help young people engage with science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).
Program In Brief
September 12–17, 2016
Community Centers Transformed
Public Celebration Attendees
Rec2Tech Pittsburgh Video Recap
Learn more about the program partners and activities during the demonstration week in September 2016.
Rec Center Transformations
Each afternoon during the demonstration week, educators from local nonprofit program providers hosted hands-on learning activities for youth ages 7 to 12. Sessions challenged youth at each rec center to use what they learned from these activities to help solve a community challenge. Meanwhile, rec center staff made sure each session included a healthy snack, physical activity, and dinner to help participants stay engaged.
Exploration & Expression at Ormsby
Combining art-making and drone photography to enable youth to document their community.
Tech Solutions for Greener Living at Phillips
Using engineering to create a self-watering greenhouse out of upcycled materials.
High-Tech Health at Magee
Exploring biology and medical science, from anatomy to nutrition, through innovative Sisters e S.T.E.A.M. programming.
Game Design Studio at Paulson
Teaching beginning video game design to help youth design characters, build levels, and make their own video game controllers.
To wrap up the demonstration week, Rec2Tech hosted a public party in Pittsburgh’s Schenley Plaza that made neighborhood programming accessible to everyone in the city. This showcase lifted up the youth participants’ work and raised public awareness of the program.
White House Event
In May 2016, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy convened more than a dozen cities to take the first steps toward building a nationwide movement to expand access to new and innovative learning opportunities for students living in under-resourced and disadvantaged communities through local Rec2Tech initiatives. Sprout helped lead and coordinate this event.
National League of Cities Event
In November 2016, Pittsburgh hosted the National League of Cities annual conference. More than 40 leaders from cities across the United States and Canada attended a “mobile workshop” that showcased Pittsburgh’s Rec2Tech demonstration project. Students from Ormbsy Recreation Center attended the event and participated in mini-sessions from each the five Rec2Tech funded projects.
Report & Recommendationssave_alt
The Sprout Fund produced a report documenting the demonstration project from planning to evaluation. It also included recommendations for replicating similar Rec2Tech programs in other communities.
Thank you to all those who made this program possible!
- Comcast NBCUniversal
- John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
- City of Pittsburgh Office of the Mayor
- City of Pittsburgh Department of Parks & Recreation (Citiparks)
- City of Pittsburgh Department of Innovation & Performance
- Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
- The Citizen Science Lab
- The Digital Corps
- Sisters e S.T.E.A.M.
- YMCA Lighthouse Project
- Remake Learning
- Ani Martinez
- Tricia Monticello Kievlan
- Dustin Stiver
- Arielle Evans
- Ryan Coon
- Lizzy Nolin
- Njaimeh Njie production assistant