July 20, 2021
The Jerome Bettis Bus Stops Here Foundation, The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) and STEM Coding Lab are very excited to announce their WOW (WIFI on Wheels) CyberBus coming to HACP communities in early 2022. The WOW CyberBus is a mobile computer lab equipped with 10-15 laptop computers with internet access and a flat-screen monitor that will allow for remote instruction.
“My Bus Stops Here Foundation has worked over the past few years to help close the digital divide for inner-city communities in Pittsburgh. Covid-19 really exposed this issue even more, so I knew we had to do something more impactful, and the CyberBus is the next bus stop on that journey to create an equal opportunity for all,” says Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis.
Mayor William Peduto added, “I’d like to thank The Bus Stops Here Foundation, STEM Coding Lab and HACP for their partnership and supporting our citywide vision to improve digital access and equity. Initiatives like WOW CyberBus, HACP’s digital programs to teach adults and youth technology and the City’s Rec2Tech to train young people in coding and other tech skills provide important investment in our people. It allows them to cultivate their technology skills, stay connected and opens opportunities.”
The WOW CyberBus will become an educational community asset, serving children and families throughout the city with crucial programming designed to activate the next generation of digitally literate professionals. In hosting classes for both adults and school age children, the programming will aid parents in their learning of computer skills, empowering them to be able to help their children become responsible, skilled digital citizens as well. To supplement our parent programming, STEM Coding Lab will provide computer science instruction to HACP youth, ages 5 and up, that highlights the varied career pathways students can take to compete for a computer science career, as well as the fun, hands-on experiences needed to generate youth excitement in the profession.
The WOW CyberBus was made possible in part by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
“There is a broad team of people and organizations committed to enhancing digital access and literacy in Pittsburgh,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “We are committed to supporting their efforts. And we are grateful to Jerome Bettis for contributing so meaningfully and effectively to this important work.”
STEM Coding Lab’s Executive Director, Casey Mindlin, stated that “There are over 20,000 available jobs in computer science in Pennsylvania today, carrying an average salary of $89,000 per year. The work of STEM Coding Lab is rooted in a commitment to preparing our youth, who too frequently learn in under-resourced environments, to compete for those jobs. The CyberBus is a perfect way to carry computer science learning outside the four walls of the classroom and inject it into communities that continue to be harmed, through no fault of their own, by the digital divide.”
The CyberBus will operate weekdays from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and will travel to a different neighborhood each day. Morning hours (10 a.m. – noon) will be reserved for parents who want to learn or hone their computer skills, work on their GEDs or learn how to start their own business. Staff and volunteers will be there to assist them in meeting their needs. The WOW CyberBus anticipates serving 5-8 parents each day or approximately 25-40 per week. Afternoons will be reserved for students. Each day, two afternoon computer programming classes will be taught; each class will serve 10-15 students daily or approximately 100-150 per week. During summer months, the hours can be altered to provide more access to students.
This is an opportunity that we’re very grateful for,” said HACP Executive Director Caster D. Binion. “We set out to bridge the digital divide in 2017 when we formally launched ConnectHomePgh with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City of Pittsburgh. However, 2020 has further reinforced the critical need for households of all income levels to have Internet access and this support will allow us to scale up our programs and bring us closer to that goal.”
The Bus Stops Here Foundation, HACP and STEM Coding Lab are pleased to announce details about the program and its anticipated launch in late 2021/ early 2022 during the July 22, 2021, Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh Board of Commissioners Meeting. The meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, July 22, 2021 and will be hosted on Zoom. To join the meeting:
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