33 Baltimore tech programs preparing youth to build the future – Technical.ly

In Baltimore, there are a wealth of opportunities for youth to break into tech. One just needs to know where to look.

From STEM programs offering hands on science education to computer classes that offer an early look at coding, here are over 30 programs that help spark an interest in the wide swath of careers that make up technical fields.

It’s not just about a well-rounded education now, but also a skilled future workforce. In 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor predicted that 85% of jobs in the future will need people with proficiency in science, technology engineering and math.

Below is a list of organizations that are working to prepare youth for that future and working to increase diversity in the STEM workforce.

The organization founded in 2017 by Brittany Young operates at the intersection of three lanes:  unrecognized potential, dirt bike culture and STEM education. B360 works as an intervention program and a way to introduce youth to engineering as it brings in former street riders over age 16, trains them in their curriculum and hires them as instructors to teach youth under 16 technical STEM skills with practical application, along with dirt bike riding safety in provided safe spaces and skills training.

The city’s FIRST robotics team debuted in 2017 and quickly made an impact on the competitive landscape. It’s open to high school students from around the city. By offering mechanical, software and team skills, the idea is to prepare youth for STEM careers.

Based in Hollins Market, the organization inspires Baltimore’s youth to pursue careers in science and tech through programs in competitive robotics, 3D printing, coding and making. Under the leadership of executive director and technologist Ed Mullin, it has long been a practice and competition space for youth robotics teams that show just as much fire as any sports team.

The Owings Mills-based nonprofit provides STEM lessons alongside diving instruction, allowing girls to dive not only into bodies of water, but also into topics such as robotics, engineering and mathematics. Led by founder Nevada Winrow, the org seeks to address the cultural narratives about African Americans and swimming, and spark a conversation about water conservation.

Youth build their own underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in order to take water samples, record videos and take pictures, with “onshore” lessons taught at Randallstown Recreation Center and diving lessons at the Y Swim Center that eventually culminate in a capstone trip.

Last year, the girls went to Andros Island where they became PADI certified scuba divers, qualifying them to dive a maximum depth of 40 feet with the supervision of an instructor.

A group of Baltimore tech companies and nonprofits teamed with City government this year to launch a new  six-week paid work experience  with the City’s YouthWorks summer jobs program. It paired teens with companies like venture studio Early Charm  and health IT company Audacious Inquiry. Students got experience in tech through backend programming with client sever applications at software product companies likeTechSlice or built chatbots at software consultancy Mind Over Machines.

Teaming with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, it was a collaboration between nonprofit Pass IT On, computer science education nonprofit Code in the Schools, and equitable tech workforce coalition Baltimore Tracks.

Founded by Tonee Lawson, the social and emotional learning-focused organization offers STEM enrichment programs and college readiness courses with leadership labs, the annual Beyond a Dream youth conference and Youth Tech Con, just to name a few events and programs the org uses to enrich youth. Lawson has also been a voice for partnerships in Baltimore’s nonprofit space, including the Baltimore Legacy Builders Collective, which she formed with B-360 and I an MENtality.

This nonprofit introduces Baltimore City high schoolers to science and tech careers as they prepare for college. During a student’s junior year of high school, they are exposed to a wealth of different tech companies through monthly field trips that lead into an internship program through the City’s YouthWorks program for rising seniors. Building STEPS also maintains relationships with students once they are in college, with an active alumni group that keeps the connection going when they enter the working world.

Inside a Building STEPS class. (Courtesy photo)

The Station North-based computer science education nonprofit brings coding classes to Baltimore City Public Schools. It also runs after school and summer programs like the Prodigy program, which offers middle and high school youth a chance to learn new skills by completing projects. Annual events like Game Jam and the Girls in CS Summit have become regional destinations for students.

The organization trains youth to face community problems and create solutions with a a curriculum that applies design thinking to launching business or social ventures. That has meant designing programs where youth made face shields in the pandemic, or creating ventures that eventually get pitched to investors for seed funding.

Founded by Baltimore tech community leaders in 2012, the nonprofit fosters innovation, tech advancement and entrepreneurship by helping youth develop digital age skills through maker activities and tech workforce development. Based out of the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center in Federal Hill, DHF offers programs in learning 3D design and printing, game-making skills with Scratch, Web and mobile development.

Students get access to tech tools inside Digital Harbor Foundation’s tech center. (Courtesy photo)

The org brings STEAM activities to the community through its workshops and pop-up events that offer exposure to technology like robotics, drones, 3D printing, and augmented and virtual reality. Through its PURGG Project (Pop Up Robotic Gaming Grounds), Full Blast STEAM allows students to learn what goes into designing and building the robots through educational “design/build/compete” workshops that introduce coding, 3D printing, game design and plenty of other concepts.

With programs in elementary and middle schools, libraries and more, FutureMakers has a team of coaches that help educators and students as they’re introduced to making and technology.

An international nonprofit that supports women excelling in technology careers, this org offers lessons in CSS, HTML and Python, using resources such as code.org, Scratch and codeacademy. A Baltimore chapter operating from the Neighborhood Cyber Center in Baltimore’s Upton neighborhood offered a 15-week session.

The Girl Scouts has taken a special interest in STEM, holding Girls STEAM Ahead events where youth engage in hands-on activities with the American Institute of Architects, Baltimore-based maker coaches from FutureMakers and STEM educators from Snapology as a way to incorporate STEM programs into the Girl Scouts experience.

In an effort to build the next generation of drone pilots, this org runs drone camps that teach drone building, flight skills and drone coding in Python and Swift. It’s based out of Station North makerspace Open Works, providing a youth-centered approach to the hub’s communtiy classes.

The Howard County nonprofit organizes teams from local communities to compete in FIRST robotics competitions. Led by Prasad Karunakaran, programs extend beyond robotics to include photography, coding, art, and indoor and outdoor drone programs as well as individual and team projects such as GOBABYGO, a program to retrofit toy cars for children with disabilities.

A high school robotics team at Hackground. (File photo, 2016)

This Howard County-based org encourages elementary-age girls to see a place for themselves in the world of computer science through after school classes at Howard County Recreation and Parks and a summer coding camp where girls participate in coding classes with mindful movement exercises.

Working with the team at the Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS) in Highlandtown, high school students work on projects centered around bioengineering and compete in the International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition. Since 2015, the team has won gold or bronze medals, with graduates of the Baltimore BioCrew going on to Brown University, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, UNC-Chapel Hill, USC, and many other prestigious schools, often on full scholarships.

Operating at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and four elementary and middle schools, the nonprofit offers a comprehensive advanced math and science instructional program for high-achieving Baltimore City public school students in grades 6-12. The curriculum involves a three-year research practicum or two year innovation practicum where students work with mentors at local colleges, universities and other research institutions to develop independent research projects, or work with mentors in local startups, companies, and universities to gain hands-on experience in various areas of tech and applied math.

(L to R) Ingenuity Project student Stephanie Fishkin, Traitify’s Anne Claggett and Ingenuity student Chelsea Thompson. (Technical.ly file photo circa 2019)

A Gaithersburg-based nonprofit with a natonal reach, this organization has a mobile bioscience lab that visits high schools offering access to tech tools and STEM education. In the pandemic, it offered distance learning bundles for middle and high school teachers called Anywhere Labs that allowed the org to double its reach to students.

The org partners with schools and youth organizations in underserved communities who want to offer STEM education content and provides the materials, training, and support necessary to implement high quality STEM learning experiences.  The programs involves hands-on instructor workshops and coaching, volunteer training, curriculum selection, and ready-to use materials.

The downtown Baltimore computer repair store doubles as community center and burgeoning esports hub. For the youth and adult attendees, it’s a local community gateway to a career in esports.

The Inner Harbor science center offers a place for teachers and parents to take youth to learn and inspire a career in STEM through exhibits and workshops.

A state initiative, administered by University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), this was created for the very purpose of keeping tech talent in Maryland. College students are given hands-on experience and the ability to explore career options with paid internships with local Maryland companies like VR/AR startup Balti Virtual.

The festival runs a myriad of events to explore and celebrate science, technology, engineering and math, with a special emphasis on pathways to jobs. The expected dates for this year’s events are October 15-November 14.

The national organization creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. The nonprofit now has two sites in East and West Baltimore. Its tuition-free tech fundamentals program includes an intro to computer administration and support, providing instruction toward the CompTIA IT Fundamentals certification.

The national tech training nonprofit offers training, career support services, financial coaching, technology toolkits and networking to folks looking to move into the tech sector. In Baltimore, the org has partnered with Hanover-based IT services firm TEKsystems and workforce development nonprofit Living Classrooms to create a 15-week network and help desk IT career course. Students learn to troubleshoot and maintain desktop and mobile devices, software and networks along with offering CompTIA’s A+ and NETWORK+ certifications, which are key for entry level employment.

Baltimore City public schools students enrolled in this five-course engineering pathway can opt for bioengineering or computer science concentrations. Seniors have presented at symposium and showcase events to gain experience showing their work to the pros.

IBM’s P-TECH program is a six-year program in four years. Participants earn their associate degree along with their high school diploma. It also offers graduates not just an associate degree, but first-in-line job opportunities with IBM. The program is currently at three high schools in Baltimore City, as well as other schools in Baltimore County and Maryland.

While providing free Wi-Fi services to communities like Cherry Hill and Sandtown Winchester, the organization founded by Jonathan Moore also trains community members to maintain and install the broadband infrastructure. As we’ve seen on various sites visits, that has provided skills training for youth.

Photo by JJ McQueen/ via Rowdy Orbi.t (Courtesy photo)

A collaboration between Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering and Baltimore City Public Schools, this program seeks to improve STEM curriculum and delivery in grades 3 -5. It’s focused on community engagement in nine schools within three specific neighborhoods: Greater Homewood, Greektown/Highlandtown and Park Heights. The program offers instructional coaching for teachers, and community-based events called STEM Showcases.

Headquartered at the SAFE Center in Southwest Baltimore’s Franklin Square community, the organization founded by Van Brooks provides hands-on learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, art and math among its programming. The programs focus on fields in the land, air and sea, having youth learn mechanical engineering skills at soapbox derbies, building drones and learning about the legal aspects of UAVs, and learning marine engineering by creating sea bots made of simple materials like PVC piping and foam.

The education arm of Northwest Baltimore Baltimore nonprofit Transforming Lives Community Development Corporation offers math and science tutoring, book clubs, and summer camps.

Who’d we miss? Get in touch at baltimore@technical.ly to let us know.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.