Avondale STEAM Initiative

What are the target goals?
Through the AmeriCorps VISTA program, the city of Avondale is working closely with one of the local school districts to enhance its Avondale Education and Community Engagement Initiative. This effort assists with the delivery of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) activities that are geared toward improving academic performance in the areas of literacy and mathematics. 

Avondale also supports the development of STEAM programs by providing out of school time educational opportunities through various partnerships. These efforts not only increase educational opportunities, but also serve to reinforce the work that schools are already doing. Activities are designed not only for school age children, but preschoolers as well, and are available to children in neighboring cities. 

How does the program function? 
Avondale's two libraries offer classes during out of school time such as the SciSpace hands-on workshops, funded through a grant, that are available for kids aged 7-12 years old. These programs are part of a partnership with the Arizona Science Center and the Phoenix Zoo.  STEAM Spot, a fun and interactive after-school program that explores science, technology, engineering, arts and math concepts, is also available to Avondale's youngest residents. 

The city's Neighborhood and Family Services Department offers many additional options for young residents to locate exposure to STEAM programs. Young residents are able to participate in workshops such as the "Science of Color" where children explore the chemistry of primary and secondary hues and the "Innovation Creation Station" where children exercise recycling and problem-solving to create their own 3-dimensional city. Many of these activities are geared toward preschool aged children and serve to introduce them to STEAM concepts while preparing them to start school. The Lego Camps, although not city funded, introduces kids (ranging from ages 5 - 7 years old) to the fundamentals of engineering.

In partnership with the Municipal Arts Committee, which is comprised of Avondale residents several of which are art professionals, the city hosts an annual High School Art Contest. The annual contest provides Avondale high school seniors with an opportunity to showcase their artistic talent and, more importantly, to win a scholarship toward their post-secondary education. Begun in 2013, the contest encourages students to pursue higher education and has grown as students realize the benefit of earning a scholarship.  

Who are the partners? 
In 2009, the City of Avondale became the first Kids at Hope city nationwide when the city council adopted this innovative concept which demonstrates a commitment to supporting the success of all children without exception. Kids at Hope provides the City of Avondale with a framework for creating a positive and supportive environment to assist youth in achieving their full potential as caring and productive citizens.   

How is the project financed? 
City staff is continually seeking grants that will financially support programs such as these in addition to developing partnerships that will enhance STEAM programing. 

When was the project launched? 
The city held education summits in 2013 and 2014, which brought together educators, community leaders and other stakeholders to discuss and develop education focused initiatives. From these summits, programs that focused on early childhood education and after school opportunities were born and partnerships have been developed. 

NLC Staff Contact

Bela Shah Spooner
Program Manager, Afterschool Initiatives
(202) 626-2057
spooner@nlc.org

This post was last updated in June 2015

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