Digital Harbor Foundation Announces Multi-Year Commitment by The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Grant to support maker and computer science education opportunities for Baltimore youth in the out-of-school time and educator professional development.

BALTIMORE (January 17, 2019) On the 6th Anniversary of opening the Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) Tech Center in the former South Baltimore Rec Center, the Digital Harbor Foundation announced a multi-year commitment of $450,000.00 to support DHF’s ongoing initiatives and aid in efforts to expand its reach.

“The Weinberg Foundation has been a key partner from the very beginning of our work,” said Andrew Coy, Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation. “This multi-year commitment allows us to act immediately on the core threads outlined in our new strategic plan which are focused on extending opportunities to even more Baltimore youth. Specifically, it will allow us to grow our team, make structural updates to several of our programs, and create new ways for youth to participate in our programs.”

As highlighted in the 2018 Annual Report, DHF’s impact has grown from a single afterschool program to now serving 1,250 youth from 37 Baltimore-area zip codes in a variety of out-of-school-time programs and special events with another 2,678 community members attending our special events. Additionally, DHF’s Center of Excellence for Innovation in Technology Education supports educators from around the country as they incorporate technology education in their learning environments through in-person workshops, online professional development, and individualized consulting. In 2018, 241 educators attended DHF’s in-person workshops (having an indirect impact on 38,505 youth from around the country) with 1,339 educators using Blueprint, DHF’s online educator resources which includes getting started guides, project ideas, online courses, and digital guides.

The announcement was made alongside a number of other public releases including the launch of free field-trip opportunities for Baltimore City Public Schools, shift in summer programs to full-day camps, new educator professional development opportunities, and naming of Darius McCoy to the role of Tech Center Director at Digital Harbor Foundation’s flagship location.

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About the Digital Harbor Foundation
The Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF), a non-profit organization located in Baltimore City, is dedicated to fostering innovation, tech advancement, and entrepreneurship by helping youth develop digital age skills through maker and computer science education. In 2013, DHF reopened the closed South Baltimore Rec Centers as the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center, a youth-centric makerspace and in 2016 launched the Center of Excellence for Innovation in Technology Education. Learn more at digitalharbor.org

About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States, is dedicated to meeting the basic needs of vulnerable people and families experiencing poverty. In 2019, the Foundation will provide approximately $125 million in grants to nonprofits that provide direct services in the areas of Housing, Health, Jobs, Education, and Community Services. The Foundation’s priority communities include Baltimore, Chicago, Hawaii, Israel, New York City, Northeastern Pennsylvania, San Francisco, and Rural Communities (primarily surrounding other priority communities). The Foundation’s trustees include Robert T. Kelly, Jr., Board Chair; Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin (Ret.); Paula B. Pretlow; and Gordon Berlin. Rachel Garbow Monroe continues to serve as President and CEO. For more information, please visit www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.

6th Anniversary Showcase

Six years ago we held the Grand Opening for the launch of the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. Forbes published “Commandeering The Decks: Baltimore’s Digital Harbor Tech Center” wrote at the time:

“Beginning next week, the Digital Harbor Tech Center will offer Baltimore City Public School students what they need to innovate. This will happen through after school digital literacy programs, classes, and clubs where kids can hone their mobile app development, web design, and digital media production skills… The center’s grand opening was a packed house, where excited participants got to show equally excited visitors the fruits of some their early work, providing a taste of what’s to come from the space.”

To celebrate our past year of work and marking the 6th Anniversary milestone, and in addition to our youth showed off their most recent creations, we were excited to

  • announce a major grant from the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation,
  • release both our 2018 Annual Report and our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan,
  • introduce Darius McCoy as the newly named Tech Center Director,
  • announce the launch of new Tech Center Field Trips opportunities,
  • announce the opportunity for Pop-Up Programs at off-site locations, and
  • announced changes to our summer Maker Camp program.

Special thanks to all of the individuals, companies, organizations and foundations that make our work possible! We wouldn’t be here without your support — you are making a TRANSFORMATIONAL impact on the trajectory of thousands of Baltimore youth!

Major Grant from The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

To support the work of the Digital Harbor Foundation, the Weinberg Foundation has made a $450,000.00 commitment over two years. You can read a full press release about this major grant here: https://www.digitalharbor.org/2019/01/digital-harbor-foundation-announces-multi-year-commitment-harry-jeanette-weinberg-foundation/

Digital Harbor Foundation’s 2018 Annual Report

We are pleased to present the Digital Harbor Foundation’s 2018 Annual Report and to reflect on the progress our youth and staff have made during the 2018 calendar year. Some of this progress is easy to see, such as the number of youth who participated in our courses or the launch of DHF’s National Rec-to-Tech Design Challenge. However, just as important are the hundreds of small and individual victories our youth have achieved over the past year. Read the whole report here.

Digital Harbor Foundation Strategic Plan (2019-2021)

Through the support and expertise of An-Me Chung, and with input from hundreds of stakeholders and community members, Digital Harbor Foundation has developed a strategic plan to help guide its work over the course of the next three years. The report outlines our organizational Theory of Change as well as Strategic Priority Actions designed to guide our efforts to continue delivering high-quality programs to even more youth in Baltimore and educators nationally. Read the full plan here.

Darius McCoy, Tech Center Director

As Digital Harbor Foundation has grown, the need for a single Director for all of our youth-serving programs at the Tech Center has become apparent. As we went through the interview process for the position, we realized that the best person to lead that work was one of our very own former youth, Darius McCoy. We could not be more pleased to introduce him to the broader community as the Tech Center Director. Seeing him step into this role is a manifestation of the transformational potential for youth in our programs to directly lead this work.

Field Trips

We are excited to announce new opportunities for 3D Printing Field Trip (FREE for Baltimore City Public Schools). During this high quality, hands-on field trip experience, youth learn how to use 3D design software to design and 3D print a personalized object. Additionally, an interactive presentation is delivered that covers the uses of 3D printers in a variety of industries, how they work, and the design-to-print workflow.

Schools can sign up directly at https://www.digitalharbor.org/whatwedo/youth/field-trips/

Pop-Up Programs

In addition to field trip opportunities to the Tech Center, DHF is excited to announce the launch of Pop-Up Programs where DHF collaborates with organizations and schools to bring hands-on tech experiences to youth in those spaces. To learn more and get invovled, email popup@digitalharbor.org!

All-Day Summer Camp

Based on feedback and requests from families, we are excited to announce changes to our summer Maker Camp schedule that will make our previously two-week half-day camps to now run all day for one week. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the announcement when registration opens: https://eepurl.com/I8aJX

Digital Harbor Foundation’s 5th Anniversary Showcase

More than 200 youth, parents, and community members attended Digital Harbor Foundation’s 5th Anniversary Showcase, one of our highest attended showcases to date. Youth presented projects such as a flashlight made out of recycled materials, an Arduino programmed lamp, and an Arduino-powered cardboard gauntlet. Sam Mitchell, Sorensen Wynn, and Eli Edmondson used Python programming to create a multiplayer game in Minecraft. The object of the game is to destroy bricks under another player in order to increase your own score.

“I walked away for a couple minutes and when I came back, everyone was playing it!” said Sam.

showcase room

Jordan Bocklage programmed a headband with wipers for her glasses, a project she had been wanting to make for the past two years since she took the Maker Foundations course. Right before the showcase, she couldn’t find the code to make the wipers move in unison and had to problem solve an alternative way to achieve her desired effect. After she showcased her work, Jordan told her parents and staff that this was only one version of her final work and that more prototypes were to come.

Mayen Nelson used his knowledge of circuitry and digital fabrication he learned in Maker Foundations to create a working laptop using a Raspberry Pi. Mayen worked down to the wire perfecting measurements for his laptop’s frame and finding a screen that worked the way he intended.

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In addition to being a showcase of our youth’s hard work, this showcase was also an opportunity to reflect on the past five years since DHF had the opportunity to reopen an unused recreation center.

“We came to work every day to a mostly empty space,” said Director of Programs, Steph Grimes.

Since then, DHF has expanded to offer courses in digital fabrication and programming to youth from 90 schools in and around Baltimore as well job opportunities and college credit. Several youth have presented projects at the White House and, last year, a DHF project inspired Adam Savage’s SXSL installation. Youth have also championed initiative such as Makerettes, the 3D Print Shop, and Harbor Hacks, the first Baltimore hackathon created by youth for youth.

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scratch game

Andrew Coy, DHF’s Executive Director, unveiled the new Expanding Tech Education Initiative, a plan to explore expanding informal tech education for underrepresented communities using makerspaces. The initiative will be funded by a research grant from the National Science Foundation EAGER program. Three sites will be selected to participate in the 18-month pilot program. Each site will receive $25K in new equipment and consumable material for curriculum implementation. The intention of this research is to find ways to create sustainable and diverse makerspaces in communities that could benefit from them.

On Thursday, February 1st at 4pm, DHF will host a conference call that will go through the details of the program and the selection process. If you’re interested in learning more information about DHF’s plans and process for the initiative, RSVP for the informational call!

The Makerettes Present: Be the Light

At the beginning of the fall season, the Makerettes, DHF’s all female maker club, began plans for a collaborative community project. The basic framework of their plan was to involve the community in an ongoing project. At first, this simply involved creating an outdoor exhibition, but the Makerettes decided that they wanted to provide a more personal benefit. They decided that they wanted to create a fundraiser for another organization providing value to marginalized people in Baltimore. The initiative set forth by the Makerettes was to design and fabricate intricate tea light lanterns that could be displayed in the courtyard and sold online. All of the proceeds would be donated to the House of Ruth, a domestic violence shelter for women and children in Maryland.

be the light

“Especially during the holiday season, the Makerettes wanted to make something for people other than themselves,” said Makerette, Sydney Lane-Ryer, at the Be the Light launch event on Wednesday, December 13th.

The House of Ruth was the Makerettes’ chosen charitable organization because of the work it does for women in the Baltimore region. As a female-founded and operated club, the Makerettes wanted to show solidarity with another female-focused organization.

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“The idea behind the Makerettes is that there aren’t enough women in tech,” said Sydney, “At DHF, we are 50% female, which is a higher statistic than is seen at many other tech corporations and businesses around the nation. The Makerettes increases retention of girls in DHF’s programs.”

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event-guests

Volunteers from the House of Ruth also attended the Be the Light event where they raised awareness about domestic violence and the work being done by the House of Ruth.

Nearly fifty lanterns were sold at the Be the Light launch event, which raised more than $500 for the House of Ruth. The lanterns that were donated to DHF will be displayed in the courtyard as part of the Be The Light Installation on display at our 5th Anniversary Showcase on January 18th. Lanterns will be on sale at that event, but you can also purchase lanterns now by visiting: dhf.io/lanternkit.

Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child at DHF

Women today are often faced with the challenge of being largely underrepresented in the tech world, but at DHF, in contrast, women represent around 40% of participants in programs semester to semester. In an effort to give girls a platform in STEM, the young women of DHF partnered with Wide Angle Youth Media at the end of August to create a short film for the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child initiative that showcases young women of different ages and demographics making in collaboration.

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On October 10th, the short film was released at the Digital Harbor Foundation in our first ever video premiere event. Members of the audience included families of the young women who starred in the film and community members such as Brooke Lierman, Maryland State Delegate representing District 46, who spoke on the importance of persistence, especially for young women. Said Lierman, “the next best thing to trying and winning is trying and failing.”

brookelierman

The film screening, which also began DHF’s social media campaign for female youth’s representation in makerspaces and tech spaces, features DHF youth Miranda Hull, Jordyn Bocklage, Elizabeth Blake, Madison Bannerman, and Aeirss Prince, Anna Miller, Samantha Nistico, and Alexis Leggette. It shows the girls engaging in activities, such as problem solving, programming, laser cutting, and soldering, and features an encouraging message to girls – although only 24% of employees in math, science, technology, and engineering are women, young women can change this statistic by working together and rejecting the stereotypes that their minds aren’t wired for math and science.

Before and after the screening, two panels of DHF’s actresses answered questions posed to them about the process of creating the film and their experiences as young women in tech. When asked how to get more girls involved in tech, Aeirss, who narrates the short film, said “I would encourage girls to just go out and do it.” She also shared her story of being the only female participant in her school’s robotics club. Miranda had a similar experience of being one of the few females involved in her school’s Science Olympiad program.

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“The innovative and creative scene is male dominated,” Miranda said, “Women are underrepresented, but we will eventually dominate the scene.”

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Anna, age 10, closed out our panels with advice for getting more girls involved in STEM fields: “Tell girls when they’re doing a good job, listen to girls, and as girls help each other out, share ideas, and see what we can make.”

Video Celebrating Girls in STEM

Watch, like, and share this video to show your support for girls in STEM!

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly designated October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child, or Day of the Girl. This day “focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.”

This year, the girls at Digital Harbor Foundation joined with youth at Wide Angle Youth Media to deliver a simple message: the world needs girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

They reject stereotypes that boys are naturally better at these subjects than girls, that boys work harder in school, and that girls simply are not meant to go into STEM careers.

They embrace the importance of diversity in today’s global workforce.

They know that girls across the world are working together to create the future.

Want to learn more about how Digital Harbor Foundation is bringing technology education to Baltimore’s youth, regardless of age, background, gender, race, or ability to pay?

Join Our Newsletter

Are you an educator interested in incorporating technology into your learning environment?
Check out DHF Blueprint!

Want to learn more about Day of the Girl or how to encourage gender and racial diversity in STEM?

United Nations International Day of the Girl Child: “There are 1.1 billion girls in the world, and every one of them deserves equal opportunities for a better future. They are a source of energy, power and creativity. They can drive change and help build a better future for all. Yet, most girls face disadvantage and discrimination on a daily basis.”

MakerEd: By enabling educators to use maker education—with a particular focus on those in underserved communities—we believe Maker Ed can help them transform their learning environments, and together we can reach thousands of youth of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

Girls Who Code: “Girls Who Code was founded with a single mission: to close the gender gap in technology.”

Black Girls Code: “[We] hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”

Girls Communicating Career Connections (GC3): “Videos, games, and fun activities about cool careers that use math and science, created by young people—just like you!”

DHF Youth Organize A Youth Hackathon

We are excited to announce that this year our youth are bringing a hackathon like no other to Digital Harbor Foundation. This hackathon, officially titled Harbor Hacks, is a hackathon organized by youth for youth. For more information and to register visit: http://harborhacks.org

hackathon-planning-committee

Harbor Hacks, the Back Story

After participating in several local hackathons, one DHF youth, Bella, noticed that something was missing from these events. Where were all the young makers?

Bella thought that many youth may not be participating in community hackathons because they might not know what to expect at a hackathon. She remembered back to her first hackathon and how her Mom had to keep encouraging her to attend because she was so nervous, she even wanted to back out briefly during the walk to the space. Now, Bella participates in numerous hackathons (and has won a few!) all over Baltimore and came up with an idea to create a hackathon just for youth. This would give young people new to the idea or concept of a hackathon a safe place to experience a hackathon that was designed just for them.

In February, Bella presented her idea for a Youth Hackathon to the Youth Steering Committee at DHF. Our youth split into different committees for the event and went to work planning. Their hard work will be a reality next weekend August 11th – 13th at DHF when the inaugural Harbor Hacks Youth Hackathon takes place.

Register Now for Harbor Hacks 2017
 

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Who Can Participate?

Any youth between the ages of 12 – 18 who like to solve problems, create new inventions, or dream big! Hurry, registration ends August 7th.

We are also looking for a few adult tech coaches to help teams out throughout the weekend, so if you think you might be a good fit, get a coach ticket.

What does it cost?

Registration for students is Pay-What-You-Can and includes a weekend of fun, a t-shirt, meals and snacks all weekend, and some awesome giveaways!

Are there prizes?

Yes! Awesome tech prizes are waiting for the teams or individuals who impress the judges.

Register Now for Harbor Hacks 2017
 

We hope you will be able to join us for a fun weekend!

3D Mapping MD

Inspired by the We The Builders project, Casey Kirk from the Maryland State Department of Education reached out to us with a concept for a similar project.  She wanted to create a topographical map of Maryland with pieces contributed from students from each county.

How It Was Done

This project was split into two main parts: logistics and technical pieces.

Logistics

Casey launched into action by contacting schools and youth organizations in Maryland’s 24 counties (including Baltimore City) to find who had 3D printing capabilities. She then compiled a list of contacts and revealed to all the strategy to have each county printed by a different organization. More details developed over time, but the initial plan was relatively simple. Each county would be printed in a specific color and then mailed to DHF for an assembly by youth on Digital Learning Day.

Excitedly, the Governor’s office showed interest in the project. A plan was hatched to assemble the project at his office. Casey and Val from MSDE took on the task of handling all of the logistics so that DHF could focus on the technical aspects.

Technicals

Using Maryland’s Mapping and GIS Data Portal, I was able to get Digital Elevation Models (DEM) of each of the counties. DEMs are grayscaled images where the white sections represent higher areas of elevation, and the darker areas are lower elevations.

Once I had a DEM for all of the counties, I then went to work converting them to 3D. I created a spreadsheet to help determine what scale could be used for the map. Maryland has everything from beaches to mountains making it a dynamic range of topography. Making it all fit on a reasonably sized map was challenging. It’s not perfect, and I would have tried to use a more universal scale next time, but I ended up using a different proportion for the height than I did for the length/width.

After I had my scale, I started converting the files into 3D. This conversion was made easy by the tool Simplify3D. Simplify3D has an add-in specifically meant to convert elevation image maps to 3D. One just needs to load the PNG and set the dimensions of the 3D model.

 

 

That was a great start. Then I loaded each model into Meshmixer to clean up the edges.

After all the files were cleaned up and ready to go, Casey kicked back into action and started to share the data. Initially, we used Google Drive to share the files but then immediately found out a few school districts in Maryland don’t allow teachers to use Google Drive. As an alternative, we switched to using Dropbox to share the files. Everyone now had access to all the county files in case they wanted to print their own version of the map.

Reflection

The project was a lot of fun. Working with Casey and MSDE is something that I love to do. They are extraordinarily innovative and are immensely motivated to bring making to Maryland schools and youth. Being part of a team where we each person contributes a different skill set was great.

If I were to do this again, one difference I would make is to form the horizontal and vertical scales a little more similar. The difference between these axes was very noticeable and one of the first things people noticed.

The event at the Governor’s office was outstanding. Seeing all of the youth from across the state come together to build the map was inspirational.

Traditionally schools have been bounded by physical walls, and a group project meant working only with people in the same room. The Internet has changed this, making our project an exploration of a collaborative strategy that is not limited by physical location. This is also the way that companies in the tech industry act today through tools like Google Docs, GitHub, and Skype.

The industries of the future will demand that our students have the ability and agility to do this type of work on a consistent basis. At the Digital Harbor Foundation, we are an agile research and development organization focused on what the future of education will look like and solve tomorrow’s problems today.

DHF Admin Make Night

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We are excited to announce our (almost) Spring Admin Make Night. Created for principals, assistant principals, and district administrators, the DHF Admin Make Night is designed to allow administrators to have fun and create with the STEM & Maker tools that are being made available to their students. Try your hand at 3D printing, program a simple device, and build an interactive computer game from Scratch. Get to be a student for an evening, and get ready to MAKE this semester great!

Bring Your Admin – Stay to Make!

We’ve had a couple of teachers ask if they could attend this administrator focused event, so we’ve decided that if you can bring along your Principal, AP, or county level administrator, you’re welcome to join! Be sure to RSVP for yourself and your admin guest at the link below.

DHF Admin Make Night: Tuesday, February 21st 6:30-8:30 pm

Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center,
1045 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
RSVP here: DHF Admin Make Night RSVP

If you have any questions, please email josh@digitalharbor.org

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Digital Harbor Foundation is dedicated to fostering learning, creativity, productivity, and community through education. In 2013 we transformed a closed-down rec center in Baltimore City into a vibrant Tech Center for youth. In 2014 we launched the Center of Excellence to train others how to incorporate making into their own learning environments. Check out DHF educator workshops and to stay up to date on DHF happenings, sign up for the monthly Maker Educator Newsletter at dhf.io/nws

Get on the Map! 3D Mapping Maryland Project

We are excited to be collaborating with the Maryland State Department of Education on a 3D Mapping Maryland Project and are requesting participation from all school systems.

This crowd-sourced 3D printing project will result in a massive puzzle reflecting a Maryland topographical map. In order to develop this puzzle, each school system or public library with a 3D printer will be provided access to their county/city’s online template. The 3D pieces from each county will be collected, then the map will be assembled by students either before or during the presentation at the Governor’s Office on Digital Learning Day, February 23, 2017. More information will be available closer to the start of this project.

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The kick-off for this event will occur on Saturday, November 5th, during Maryland’s first statewide Maker education conference, the Make. IT. Work. Conference at Eastern Tech High School. Templates will also be released on this date. Additional conference information can be found at https://dhf.io/makeitwork.

For a look at a similar project, check out the We the Builders‘ crowd-sourced 3D printed sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe.

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The We the Builders team created a digital replica of Edgar Allan Poe and shared the spliced files online. Individual Makers and Makerspaces from around the world contributed all the pieces of this sculpture.

PS – The newest We the Builders project, Rosie the Riveter, was sculpted at DHF and is now live! You can also participate in this project, so claim your pieces today. Learn more here: Rosie the Riveter