By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has submitted requests for Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) to the Appropriations Committee for community funding projects for Maryland, according to an announcement from Van Hollen.
Among the nominees is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) City Baltimore, which could receive an investment of up to $2 million.
“STEM City Baltimore will be a transformational workforce training program aimed at middle school to high school students, to train them in the cutting edge digital technologies that are emerging,” Tyrone Taborn, creator of the STEM City Metaverse, told the AFRO. “These training centers will be open to everyone and be located in high-risk areas such as the Thurgood Marshall area and within the 21202 zip code.”
Taborn said “high-risk” areas are neighborhoods of low economic status, such as Upton where the Justice Thurgood Marshall Center will be located.
“They will also be able to access every single class virtually either through the STEM cities or directly with an internet connection,” continued Taborn.
The Thurgood Marshall Center, led by Rev. Alvin Hathaway, is a similarly budding initiative to replace an abandoned school building, P.S. 103, with a community center.
“I believe that supporting your project is important for Maryland and a good use of federal taxpayer funds,” said Van Hollen in a statement to the STEM City team, according to a press release.
STEM City Baltimore derives from STEM City USA, a Black-owned digital platform.
Though STEM City Baltimore is intended for grades 6 to 12, Taborn said no community member will be turned away.
According to a news release by Taborn’s company — Foundation for Educational Development —the Fiscal Year 2024 Community Funding Project Requests, where the funding would come from, aims to support crucial investments in state and local communities.
Taborn states that the program aims to help give the Black community and those living in economically poor areas a chance.
“We’re looking at giving graduating seniors who cannot attend a four-year college a chance to invest in themselves,” said Taborn. “We’re talking about creating businesses where people can bring in data and create a whole technology sector that will change the face of entire neighborhoods in time.”
Taborn continued, “The young people who are on the streets, trying to earn a couple of dollars, washing cars, if I can put them through a certification program in any new technology that demands to hire people with these skills, it would be incredible. That’s why we’re going overseas and hiring people overseas because the talent is not here in the U.S.
Taborn said children won’t have to attend college or have a high school degree. As long as they have the desire to learn things like gaming software, they can turn around one day and create programs doctors use.
Taborn said he’s thankful for the prospect of funding for STEM City Baltimore.
“Anything can happen,” said Taborn. “
] could end up being nothing– but I think this is the reflection and the forward-thinking of our Congressional Caucus, that they see the future and understand how important new technology is to bridging the digital divide.”
Taborn’s book “Metequake USA: What the Metaverse is and how it Will Shape Your Future,” was published in October 2022.
Tashi McQueen is a Report For America Corps Member.