Youth Resource Roundup: 12 Programs to Help Philly Students Break into STEM


Philly is increasingly recognized as a technology hub on the international scene. How can the city’s next generation maintain its reputation as an innovator and benefit from the often well-paying careers that come with it?

In September, Technically focuses additional reports on Young people build the future, including student programs and initiatives that can answer this question.

Below is a list of resources available for those who want to start STEM early, both in elementary and high school. Do you know which ones we missed? Let us know at [email protected]

This partnership between Springboards scholars, CS4 Philadelphia and Penn Engineering offers students in grades 6 to 12 free computer programming, including robotics and coding, in virtual, hybrid and in-person formats. The summer, fall and spring programming cycles and students are grouped by level of experience.

This local non-profit organization for K-12 students aims to tackle inequalities through technology education and competitions in schools and community centers. Its free virtual programming teaches software development, digital design, computing and entrepreneurship. This fall, CbK is launching the Innovation League, a competitive skills development series for 100 Philly students aged 12-18. Applications end Friday, September 24.

Two students at a Coded by Kids event. (Courtesy photo)

This Philadelphia-based nonprofit offers workshops, summer camps, and design events for girls. (Find out how the organization is handling virtual education during the pandemic.) The mostly free programming takes place after school, with weekly camps and weekend workshops, and teaches the basics of coding, web design , game design, etc.

Camden-based Hopeworks helps young people between the ages of 17 and 26 break cycles of poverty and violence by learning coding and tech skills that will enable them to pursue sustainable careers in tech. Programming takes place all year round.

In the Hopeworks technical training center. (Courtesy photo)

This organization strives to support young people’s interest in robotics and STEM careers through collaborations with schools in the Philadelphia School District. Students in local public schools benefit from the mentorship and support of professionals in STEM-related fields. Programming will run concurrently with the calendar year of the school district.

A collaboration between the Philly School District and Communities in Schools of Philadelphia, Inc., UTP provides young people with directly applicable professional development for entry-level IT careers. His AmeriCorps digital service scholarship recipients is a pre-apprenticeship program for recent high school graduates aged 17-24.

FirstHand is a program of the University campus science center designed to provide STEM lab education to young people from all walks of life. One goal: to create a more equitable technological ecosystem. The year-round free program offers middle and high school mentorship, career exposure, and hands-on training.

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This organization, which has announced its intention to launch Montgomery County Community College earlier this year, allows school-aged students to learn more about technology through hands-on workshops. Programming will begin this fall with the goal of reaching 7,000 students in its first year.

Students in Grades 9-12 who are interested in STEM topics can participate in this program designed to help students from under-represented backgrounds go to college and pursue STEM careers. Students meet weekly at the Franklin Institute throughout their school year and Monday through Thursday during summer vacation. Students are encouraged to apply in late September or early October before the mid-December deadline.

Drexel Young Dragons is a free four-week program for middle school students living in West Philly’s Opportunity zone. Students meet on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Drexel University during the summer, this year via Minecraft. The deadline for submitting applications is usually early June.

This Excelon-a sustained summer camp takes place at University of Sciences and designed for local college girls interested in physics. Entrants are selected through a competitive process in which their science scores, recommendations, and essay are all assessed. Students are then grouped into cohorts and work with mentors leading to the Girls’ physics demonstration event, where they can share their projects. Learning topics for 2021 included solar power, nanotechnology, and wind power.

This West Park Cultural Center The program for Girls of Color ages 13-18 combines an hour of dance training followed by an hour of coding lessons, a combo that brings the acronym STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics to life. (Read Bonus: Why Coding Is Like Ballet.) The program runs Saturdays from October through June and costs $ 100 per participant, with scholarships available.


Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of the Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. -30-

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