Digital Harbor Foundation, UMBC win $1.5M grant to grow youth tech programming in Baltimore, Pittsburgh rec centers

City recreation departments in Baltimore and Pittsburgh are collaborating with Baltimore’s Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) and UMBC as they bring youth makerspaces to rec centers.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $1.5 million research grant to DHF and the university that will support creating computer science and tech hubs at two rec centers in each city. The grant will support training for rec center staff and the tech programming for youth. The effort will also develop a toolkit that will be available online for any city seeking to localize the programming.

The Advancing Informal STEM Learning award means a formal role for DHF’s rec-to-tech model inside city government-run rec centers. The nonprofit has launched many different initiatives in recent years, but the work inside rec centers has always seemed a natural path given its origin.

In 2013, its Federal Hill tech center opened for youth after-school programming, camps and 3D

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