Values Aligned: Dresden STEAM Club
A bespoke creative technology after-school program for kids from an underserved community
In 2018, I founded and led a partnership between PublicisSapient (Second Story’s parent company) and Dresden Elementary School, a Title I Dekalb County school with students primarily from the Latinx community in the surrounding neighborhood. The majority of the students’ parents were non-English speakers, and 95% of the students were eligible for free- or reduced-cost lunches. The school had a small “computer lab”--a set of 5-year old Chromebooks–and much of the school’s technology was antiquated and sluggish. Students’ parents lacked the resources to help their children thrive academically, and most did not speak enough English to effectively use the resources available to them. Many of the students’ parents didn’t have basic computer skills, like checking email, or doing a simple web search, and most families didn’t have computers at home.
After speaking with the Student & Family Engagement Coordinator for Dekalb County about Dresden Elementary’s students’ needs, I came up with a tiered, ongoing partnership plan with the goals of 1) inspiring students (3rd-5th graders) to dig deeper into what they can do with technology and creativity and 2) empowering parents to use the resources available to them to help their kids be successful students. The plan consisted of a combination of technology and creative modules, one-off events like Career Day or STEAM Day, and donation drives. I pitched this plan to PublicisSapient leadership, with options for levels of engagement, numbers of events, and requested budget.
Throughout Fall 2018, I worked closely with Dekalb County Schools leadership and the PublicisSapient office lead to get this program off the ground, and we kicked off in January 2019. The program ran through Spring 2022 with more than 20 technology- and/or creativity-oriented workshops, each one designed for this particular group of students. I also planned larger events such as Career Day, a Publicis campus tour, and STEAM Day at the school, in addition to some supply donation drives. We were in-person from 2019 to March 2020 and virtually from Fall 2020 until the program ended in 2022. Outside of the scope of the partnership, I spent a couple of weeks developing a web-based app for the school to track whether their students got on the correct bus, and which student was assigned to which bus.