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The City and County of Denver HA Overcomes Resource Scarcity and Trains Workforce through New Partnerships

DHA committed to SEED in 2014. The program is organized around three pillars: energy literacy, STEM education, and job-driven skills training. PHAs have significant freedom to integrate these pillars into new and existing programs to reach their goals. Some of DHA’s key SEED efforts are listed below, categorized by pillar:

Energy Literacy

DHA coordinates online and in-person energy literacy outreach for its residents including webinars, videos, workshops, and informational materials. In addition, HUD, DOE, and the ED will educate public housing residents about measures they can take to reduce energy consumption.

Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC) has partnered with DHA to increase the energy and water efficiency of SVED properties by installing water-efficient toilets and shower heads. Young people who live at DHA properties are recruited to join the Youth Corps and are paid to attend training and then work in the neighborhood.

STEM Education

As part of SEED, DHA has partnered with several local institutions to provide new STEM learning opportunities for its youth. For example, through the US2020 program, DHA, Fairview Elementary, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and CityYear (a local education non-profit) have teamed up to provide STEM afterschool events to elementary school students using museum staff as mentors. The Museum of Nature and Science and the Children’s Museum of Denver have provided free admittance and STEM programming for SVED community residents. The Museum of Nature and Science and the Museum of Natural History came on-site and worked with 50 youth after school in hands-on projects building cars. The National Center for Women in Technology hosted summer coding camps for girls to get them interested in STEM. Finally, DHA has partnered with Ink Monster (graphic design and printing) and Youth Employment Academy to provide internships for youth.  

DHA also participates in HUD’s Connect Home program, which offers a platform for community leaders, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private industry to join together and produce locally-tailored solutions to bring low-cost broadband access, digital devices, and digital literacy trainings to eight low-income communities serving five family developments, including SVED. DHA uses both SEED and its Connect Home program to provide various STEM educational offerings. DHA will be expanding Connect Home to an additional public housing development in 2017.

Job-Driven Skills Training

DHA began its SEED job training efforts by using data from the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) to identify the primary employers within SVED. DHA used the employment data to tailor its resident training opportunities to high-growth industries within the District. For example, SVED plans to increase the use of renewable technologies in the neighborhood. In response, DHA has focused its SEED workforce programs on training residents to provide ongoing operations and maintenance for new PV systems. OED has also provided funding for a place-based employment program in SVED that has started to train residents in the green construction industry for jobs anticipated to be available in the neighborhood in the next 18-24 months. In 2016, 34 SVED residents enrolled in employment readiness activities in the neighborhood.

Notably, DHA’s relationships with Xcel Energy and NREL ensure that SVED is fertile ground for the development of future energy efficiency jobs. Xcel Energy is DHA’s partner on the installation of solar PV systems, as well as a pilot program on solar power underground battery storage; NREL also works with DHA and the City of Denver on modeling energy solutions for SVED.

DHA also focused on connecting public housing residents to jobs that already existed in the neighborhood, specifically in the energy and construction field. As part of SEED, DHA has emphasized hiring programs sponsored by general contractors, solar and other energy, and construction-related companies. Finally, SEED programming helped launch the Light Industrial Jobs Academy, where participants train 48-60 hours per week and are offered training toward several national certifications that are specifically geared toward jobs available within the neighborhood. Any future build-out of housing or Eco-District projects will prioritize offering job opportunities to those living and training in SVED.

DHA’s SEED program outreach has included meeting with SVED residents and local leaders in business and education, in conjunction with the Eco-District development. During these meetings, DHA has educated community leaders on the SEED program, introduced the logo and mission, and advertised upcoming programming and incentives.

The following tools and resources have helped SEED participants implement their SEED programs:

DHA reports outcomes on a quarterly basis in a report to HUD to demonstrate their progress toward fulfilling SEED objectives and leveraging SEED-funded programs to encourage green workforce development. The outcomes are organized around the three pillars of SEED. Below are some results from the most recent quarterly report:

Energy Literacy

  • New Pilot Program for PV Battery Storage is under negotiation.

STEM Education

  • 780 residents participated in SEED STEM learning and activities.
  • 3 Museum of Nature & Science Observational Tours for resident youth; 26 of the youth completed the auxiliary lab program.
  • 20 industry recognized certificates earned.
  • 30 students received scholarships.
  • 4 new partnerships created.

Job-Driven Skills Training

  • 34 SVED residents participated in the Sun Valley Employment Program.
  • 25 SVED residents completed Academies to Work training in 2016.
  • 9 participants became employed full time.

SEED organizes its success metrics around three pillars: energy literacy, STEM education, and workforce development. On a quarterly basis, SEED grantees report their progress on metrics that demonstrate progress in one of the three broader pillars. DHA also submits quarterly utility cost savings from energy conservation measures at its SEED sites, which is then benchmarked to show cost savings that occur over the course of the program.

A sampling of the metrics includes:

  • Number of participants/attendees in SEED Energy Literacy activities, programs, and events
  • Number of new STEM internship opportunities created by SEED
  • Number of direct vacant full-time, permanent jobs filled

In addition to demonstrating the various successes of the SEED program, quarterly reporting is helpful in allowing DHA to assess and improve its programs. In the next five years, DHA will continue to focus on green job creation and forming new partnerships to aid its SEED efforts.