Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced nearly $20 million in PAsmart Advancing Grants to expand access to computer science and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for learners across the commonwealth.
“Our historic investments in education throughout my administration are ensuring a better future for our children and a stronger Pennsylvania,” Governor Wolf said. “These PAsmart awards focused on STEM education are particularly valuable in putting commonwealth students on a path to the best jobs of the future.”
Projects funded by the PAsmart Advancing Grants range from the development of a K-12 data science pathway, to a project to increase the number of K-8 educators with computer science endorsements in northeastern PA, to engineering and digital fabrication experiences for elementary students, to a dedicated computer science-focused high school in Philadelphia.
“PAsmart prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow, no matter where they live in the commonwealth or where they plan to live in the future,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “Equitable access to STEM and computer science programs gives students from all walks of life the skills they need to obtain meaningful, family-sustaining careers, and these grants will provide thousands more learners the opportunity to build on their skillset, grow, and achieve.”
Awards can be found here.
Highlights among the 42 awarded proposals include:
- “PA Aquaponics Collaborative Expansion” led by Intermediate Unit 1. This project enables the Southwest PA Aquaponics Collaborative, along with business, higher education, intermediate unit, and school district partners, to expand educational aquaponics programs into rural, western, and central PA. It aims to expand access to learning about food systems, farming, and sustainability through aquaponics to rural students across 20 counties.
- “Reimagining Access and Mathematical Pathways (RAMP) to STEM” led by Delaware County Intermediate Unit and the STEM Equity Alliance. RAMP to STEM will bring high-quality, culturally relevant math education to underserved students of color from four school districts via improved high school coursework and college dual enrollment courses that better prepare students for postsecondary options in STEM.
- “Public Library STEM Club Initiative” led by Franklin County Public Libraries and The Video Game Clubs of America. The Public Library STEM Club will engage 50 public libraries in seven counties to promote computer science, STEM, and social-emotional learning through gaming clubs for youth in grades 7-12.
- “GCSOM PAsmart STEM Medical Pathway Program” led by Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM). The PAsmart STEM Medical Pathway Program will provide healthcare training, certifications, and structured clinical exposure to 11th- and 12th-grade students in northeastern PA who are underrepresented in STEM, partnering with school districts, universities, county workforce development boards, and others.
- “Millersville University & National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT)-C4C PAsmart Grant Partnership Model” led by Millersville University. Focusing on trainings for school counselors, the partners aim to promote underrepresented students’, especially female students’, entry into STEM careers.
Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will be served by at least three of the projects awarded grants, and more than three-quarters of counties will be impacted by at least four different projects.
Over the past eight years, the Wolf Administration has invested $116 million in STEM education, and has secured $20 million annually for PAsmart. PDE has awarded 495 PAsmart grants to expand computer science and STEM education and teacher training at more than 765 schools across the commonwealth since the 2018-19 school year.
The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has projected that by 2028, there will be about 157,000 more occupations in Pennsylvania that require mathematics knowledge (representing 65% of all employment in the commonwealth), and about 125,000 more occupations that require knowledge in computers and electronics (representing 54% of all employment).