TechConnect was created by Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros in 2016 to help bring digital equity to young people living in poverty in her council district. The program targets two populations of young people: Children ages 6-13 who lack access to tech devices and gadgets; and also to the TechConnect interns aged 16-24, who may be in high school or college, or are Opportunity Youth, and who are afforded and benefit from academic and professional development opportunities throughout the summer.
The program brings STEM resources, especially tech resources, to underserved youth at City of Houston Park Community Centers. TechConnect Interns facilitate the daily delivery of highly interactive, hands-on STEM activities as well as literacy enrichment for youth participating in neighborhood park recreation centers summer program. In the Fall of 2021, free public WIFI was installed at each TechConnect site. In addition to the daily STEM kits and resources that rotate through the parks, TechConnect Fairs travel to different park sites providing an even wider opportunity for both children and interns to learn about and engage in STEM stations set up by other tech industry professionals, educational non-profits, and City of Houston departments.
As the TechConnect program and interest in it has grown, so has participation from children and families in neighboring council districts, outside of District H as well. This summer, TechConnect will operate in fifteen City of Houston Parks Department sites, including three new neighborhood community centers in three other high need council districts.
TechConnect Houston became a registered 501(c)3 organization in the State of Texas on 06/13/2022. The nonprofit is governed by a board of four directors, the sponsoring city department is the Mayor’s Office of Education, and the delivery of TechConnect is administered through the Houston Parks Department.
Since 2016, the program has operated within Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros’ District H Office, where it has been fully funded and staffed by the council member. In 2022, Mayor Sylvester Turner allowed the formation of this new City of Houston non-profit organization, to help ensure the sustainability and future expansion of TechConnect, beyond the tenure of current term-limited elected officials.