The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Energy (DOE), and Education (ED) will launch SEED (STEM, Energy, and Economic Development): Coalitions for Community Growth, an innovative place-based initiative to connect public housing families to STEM education and jobs.
SEED will link federal investments and national partners to locally driven coalitions of public-private partners to launch or expand programs that provide access to energy literacy, STEM education, and workforce development for public housing residents. In partnership with local public housing authorities (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, 600 residents will be provided with energy literacy training via programing and webinars to public housing communities; 8,000 youth and young adults in public housing will be connected to STEM educational opportunities; 1,000 public housing residents will receive STEM, workforce or certificate training; and 1,000 public housing residents will obtain employment.
HUD, DOE, and ED will identify national partners/resources, provide a HUD point-of-contact for technical assistance for each SEED coalition, create linkages to federally-funded organizations on the ground, and provide best practices information through webinars, meetings, and technical assistance.
SEED will leverage HUDs Section 3 program to train and employ residents in STEM/energy-related jobs generated by these investments. Other federal programs to be leveraged include DOEs Better Buildings Challenge, Energy Savers and Energy Literacy programs and EDs investments in adult and technical education.
To date, the following partners have committed to support this initiative.
The National Center for Women in Information Technology will provide technical assistance to PHAs and local SEED coalitions on applying for the AspireIT program to teach middle school girls how to code.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide 30 scholarships for public housing children/youth to attend clubs in SEED locations.
US2020 will pilot their online STEM mentor matching platform in DC and Denver, enabling local coalitions to meet their STEM mentoring needs.
The Denver Public Housing Authority and the Mile High Youth Corps will provide STEM summer sessions for 90 elementary school students, and train 30 residents using the Academies to Work Construction Industry Track program. Of those trained, 20 will be certified by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and, of those, 10 will find full-time temporary employment.
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) will provide out-of-school STEM learning for 690 kids at four 21st Century Learning sites. CMHA will also create 120 temporary full-time jobs through its redevelopment projects of Cedar Estates and Carver Park.
The Tampa Housing Authority (THA) and its partners will provide training to 500 residents. Of those trained, 110 will find full-time permanent employment, 25 will find part-time permanent employment, and another 25 will find part-time temporary positions. THA and TECO will provide 350 hours of energy literacy training for public housing residents and energy kits to raise awareness and encourage behavior change vis-à-vis energy consumption.
Federal SEED team deliverables:
- Appoint a HUD point-of-contact for each community upon becoming a SEED location.
- Create localized resource maps identifying federal grantee recipients with potential to support workforce training and certification programs as well as career pipeline opportunities by 9/01/2017.
- Provide technical assistance and communicate funding opportunities remotely.
- Identify additional national partners for SEED communities and secure commitments where applicable.
- Recruit new SEED communities up to a total of 20 communities. All SEED communities will be onboarded by 9/01/2016.
- Host monthly energy literacy webinars for the SEED pilot communities and public housing authorities.
- Host a convening for all five SEED pilot communities to share key learnings, best practices, and create a community of practice.
- Host conversations with each national partner to follow-up on implementation of commitments.
- Complete one site visit at each of the five pilot city locations.
- Host a national convening across all sites and agencies.
SEED coalitions deliverables:
- Shepherd the coordination of SEED activities, meetings or trainings as needed with PHA staff and local coalition.
- Identify program enrollment periods and recruit public housing residents and other low-income residents to enroll in training and after-school programs.
- Establish and convene coalition meetings consisting of public and private partners committed to providing energy literacy, STEM, and job-driven skills development opportunities for public housing residents.
- Review program and training enrollment numbers for deliverables.
- Train, on average, 125 residents in STEM, workforce or certificate program.
- Facilitate job placement services or employment of 125 public housing residents.
- Provide STEM education opportunities for 1,000 youth and young adults.
- Reporting on goals and metrics to SEED national team.
- Each program city will provide a program plan that outlines their goals, strategies and metrics, including deliverables and metrics achieved at quarterly marks.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have made significant investments in infrastructure upgrades and energy retrofits to conserve resources on a national scale. However, a disconnection exists between the jobs created by federal investments in energy retrofits at Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) and the types of jobs public housing residents are trained for.
Moreover, although Section 3 of the HUD Act of 1968 requires PHAs to direct new employment, training, contracting, and other economic opportunities created during the expenditure of HUD funds to low-income residents of the community where those funds are spent, these opportunities have traditionally been limited to administrative, service-oriented, and construction positions that may or may not be permanent.
In spring 2014, HUD and the U.S. Department of Labor created a joint toolkit (From the Ground Up: Creating Sustainable Partnerships between Public Housing Authorities and Workforce Investment Boards) identifying barriers to employment public housing residents may face. These include lower education and limited job skills, which are even more significant considering the increased training required to fill the positions created by federal investments in the field of alternative energy.
In a context of growing demand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills in the US workforce and a projected shortage of one million STEM graduates over the next decade, providing public housing youth and adults with education and workforce development opportunities in STEM could represent an opportunity for increased employability and economic mobility.
In order to expand beyond the five pilot cities and increase the impact of SEED, there is a need for additional resources and partners. Partners are needed to support STEM curriculum development and program implementation, energy literacy education, job placement services, apprenticeship opportunities, and to offer career pathways. Additionally, best practice information on STEM curriculum development, energy literacy, and energy/STEM workforce development would be needed.
HUD is offering the opportunity to other PHAs and organizations to join this initiative and become SEED coalition partners. Coordination, media support, and technical assistance are provided by interagency federal SEED staff. Each city is assigned a HUD coordinator to facilitate implementation of coalitions, partnerships, and activity planning. As a SEED coalition partner, national or local, the organization will be provided with access to PHAs across the country, and benefit from national partnerships with Boys and Girls Clubs of America, The Corps Network, NCWIT, US2020, and the Carnegie Science Center. The resources provided by these partnerships include: access to a STEM mentor matching platform through US2020; technical assistance for applying to NCWITs AspireIT program; a model for training residents through The Corps Network which can help PHAs meet Section 3 requirements; and STEM curriculum and professional development through the Carnegie Science Center.