Spotlight Encore Cleveland: Cuyahoga County Public Library Harnesses the Power of Cross-Generational Learning

An Encore volunteer works with young students on an engineering project

Launched in 2013 by the Cleveland Foundation, Encore Cleveland helps connect and fund a network of organizations to provide experienced Greater Clevelanders an array of meaningful opportunities upon retirement or near the end of their primary careers. In our “Spotlight Encore Cleveland” guest blog series, we go behind-the-scenes to explore the many programs available through Encore Cleveland. Learn about Cuyahoga County Public Library’s STEAM Volunteers program in this guest blog from the organization:

In 2014, Cuyahoga County Public Library set out to create an innovative volunteer program to connect teens with Encore-age adults in a cross-generational learning environment. Teens attend library programs based on their interests that are rooted in a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) discipline. Out of school time programs in libraries have the opportunity to reach teens through more flexible learning environments that emphasize peer engagement and problem-solving. These programs often utilize technology and build important 21st century skills like collaboration and critical thinking. Even more importantly, teens attending these library programs can form connections with adult STEAM volunteers. Interactions between caring and knowledgeable adults enable teens to link their interests and real-world opportunities. Those same interactions give STEAM volunteers a rewarding opportunity to enrich the lives of teens, adding to their personal growth and satisfaction.

What began as a program at five library branches has grown to serve teens at 21 Cuyahoga Library locations. As the program continues to grow, we are hoping to increase our number of volunteers. STEAM volunteers enrich Cuyahoga County Public Library’s teen programs with a myriad of skills, experiences and knowledge. Volunteers do not need to have prior experience in a particular field or with specific equipment or technology. An interest in working with teens is the most important qualification!

Since programs are planned based on teen interests, topics will vary by location. Some examples of past programs include: LEGO robotics, coding, stop motion animation, and 3D design.

Have we your piqued your interest? On Saturday, October 21st, Cuyahoga County Public Library is hosting a one-day STEAM Expo at the Parma-Snow Branch from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. The event will feature demos and hands-on activities that showcase examples of youth programs the library regularly offers. Stop by to see firsthand the type of programs and activities you might encounter as a STEAM volunteer.

For more information about Cuyahoga County Public Library’s STEAM volunteer program, visit: