Citizen Schools California partners with Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley

Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley has been an on-the-ground advocate for affordable housing in the Bay Area for the past 30 years. With the help of thousands of volunteers, the organization has served over 6,000 individuals in the Bay Area by providing affordable homeownership opportunities to low-income families. This Fall, three San Jose middle schools will have the opportunity to take part in Habitat’s mission through a new Playhouse build apprenticeship. The apprenticeship will combine Habitat’s community build model with Citizen Schools’ project-based apprenticeship program. Over the course of ten weeks, approximately 75 participating students will design and build playhouses.

rsz_img_0070“Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley is excited to partner with Citizen Schools in piloting the STEAM Playhouse Program in San Jose,” says Margo Harrigan of Habitat for Humanity East Bay/ Silicon Valley. “Middle school students will have the opportunity to apply hands-on building along with practical application of critical academic skills, and they can give back to the community – while having tons of fun! A Citizen Schools apprenticeship-based, enrichment-focused after school program is an excellent platform for launching the STEAM Playhouse Program.”

One Citizen Schools volunteer eagerly signed up to help teach the apprenticeship. Having already taught 3D printing as a Citizen Teacher, as well as participated in Habitat for Humanity builds, Ryan Lam was quick to see the partnership’s potential as an exciting learning opportunity for Citizen Schools’ students. He and his co-worker at Synaptics, Adaeze Ezeh, were the first to sign up to lead one of the three apprenticeships.

For Ryan, Habitat for Humanity’s mission hits home. “Since moving out of the neighborhoods of my youth,” Ryan  says, “I’ve never forgotten the critical role a good home plays in our daily lives. I can relate to the many others in Silicon Valley who have the same daily struggle of having or keeping a good home to raise their family. This is core to my enthusiasm for Habitat for Humanity’s mission to build (or rebuild) quality affordable housing for those in need.  More than just constructing a home, it weaves together community participation and “sweat equity” of potential homeowners to invest in home ownership, in their community, in their sense of belonging.”

Citizen School students, too, will experience the most rewarding part of Habitat for Humanity’s model. At the end of semester WOW! event, students will gift the playhouses they built to “blue families,” which are families with an active duty parent.  

If you or your company is interested in taking part in this exciting partnership and leading a Playhouse Build apprenticeship, please contact Crystal Collins, Corporate and Civic Engagement Manager at