ALAMO - PSJA Memorial Early College High School's Technology Club was recently awarded a $5,000 prize after winning the 2017 Ford STEM High School Community Challenge, geared for students to create solutions based on regional issues. The team submitted a video proposing the Community IT Engagment Center in the tri-city area. They were one of only six schools across the nation to receive this prize.

Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) has teamed up with the Ford STEAM program to award $50,000 in grants to creative high school students who are using their STEAM skills to advance sustainable communities and make people’s lives better. Building on the success of Ford’s College Community Challenge, the Ford STEM High School Community Challenge was launched to empower students in the nationwide Ford NGL network to put their knowledge to work making positive changes for people in the community.

Student leadership was an essential part of each winning proposal, along with the participation of community partners. Students explored real-life issues and ways to address unmet needs in technology, alternative energy, health and other areas.

PSJA Memorial students saw the need to promote the use of technology in the area and support community economic growth. The school partnered with the City of Pharr's IT Department to utilize space in their creative incubator to make this plan a reality. Through this community center, students will share their IT knowledge with members of the community.

According to their sponsor Rogelio Gonzalez, this center will provide students with hands-on learning by including a makerspace where they can engage with members of the community to work on joint projects, coding and technology innovations.

“Innovation and sustainability are two essential elements that will help strengthen communities and improve the quality of life for the people who call them home,” said Mike Schmidt, director, Education and Global Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Through creative initiatives like the Ford STEM High School Community Challenge, we hope to encourage innovative approaches to learning that spark student interest and imagination.”