The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP) has identified digital literacy as an immediate priority and need for many HACP households. HACP has set a goal to help bridge the digital divide in our communities. By providing residents with internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we will help residents and families gain access to online opportunities and provide opportunities for work and school. To this end, HACP has invested in a variety of efforts designed to connect residents of low-income public housing programs with access to the internet, as well as the skills and tools needed to conduct their online activities.
Major investments made by HACP in 2020 include the purchase of Google Chromebooks for HACP households with Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) students, a purchase of Comcast Internet Essentials for one year for up to 1,400 HACP households, and the purchase of 620 tablets to be provided to HACP residents for participation in various programs held by or affiliated with HACP. In all, HACP has invested more than $550,000 toward advancements in digital literacy initiatives in 2020.
Where to Find theWOW CyberBus
WOW CyberBus Partnership
HACP is seeking to further expand its capacity to connect residents with digital literacy programming by launching a new, enhanced Mobile Lab Program, entitled WOW CyberBus. Equipped with laptop computers with internet access and a flat-screen monitor that will allow for remote instruction, the WOW CyberBus initiative is now poised to engage HACP communities with the programming necessary to prepare residents and their children for the 21st Century.
In order to bring this educational programming into HACP communities, the HACP has partnered with the STEM Coding Lab and the Bus Stops Here Foundation to bring computer science and digital literacy classes to the families via the WOW CyberBus.
STEM Coding Lab currently serves our region as the only nonprofit exclusively devoted to providing computer science education to Pittsburgh’s under-resourced youth. Founded in 2016, STEM Coding Lab has a tremendous track record of serving our region’s schools, afterschool programs and community learning hubs.
Founded in 1997 by Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jerome Bettis, the Bus Stops Here Foundation is dedicated to improving the overall quality of life for under-resourced, inner-city youth. The Bus Stops Here Foundation accomplishes this by providing financial resources, educational and recreational programs and mentoring that will assist youth in learning to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy choices. In support of the CyberBus initiative, the Bus Stops Here Foundation brings decades of experience in engaging the region’s youth, as well as the brand ambassadorship of one of our region’s most beloved celebrities.
Together, the HACP, STEM Coding Lab, and the Bus Stops Here Foundation envisions the WOW CyberBus becoming 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, we 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 in order to generate youth excitement in the profession.
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. We anticipate serving 5-8 parents each day or approximately 25-40 per week. Afternoons will be reserved for students. Each day, we will host two afternoon computer programming classes; 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.
The “New Normal” requires us to rethink our standard approach to education and our efforts to mitigate the digital divide. The CyberBus concept is a unique and novel method to position our “mobile school” at the point of most need – the very communities that need the equipment, resources and the opportunity to get on the digital path to success and upward mobility.