Continuing the rollout of his groundbreaking PAsmart initiative, Governor Tom Wolf announced $10.8 million in PAsmart Advancing Grants to expand access to computer science and STEM education for Pennsylvania learners. Combined with PAsmart Targeted Grants announced in 2020, the Wolf administration has awarded nearly $20 million to bolster STEM and computer science (CS) in schools during the 2020-21 school year.
“Workers in all types of jobs increasingly need to use computers and technology,” said Governor Wolf. “In order to meet that demand, I launched PAsmart in 2018 to expand science and technology education.
“These grants will help our schools and communities to expand STEM and computer science education. That will strengthen our workforce, so businesses can grow, and workers have good jobs that can support a family.”
Over the next decade, seven in 10 new jobs in Pennsylvania will require workers to use computers and new technologies.
Projects funded by the PAsmart Advancing Grants include CS and STEM after-school programs in robotics and artificial intelligence; the establishment of innovative STEM partnerships between school districts and higher education partners to provide college credits and industry credentials in STEM and Computer Science; support for diversity and inclusion on esports teams in high-need areas; establishing innovation hubs through collaborations with community colleges, city parks, and libraries to help underserved learners build STEM and computer science skills; establishing mentorships to expose underrepresented learners to STEM careers; and opportunities for rural, urban, and suburban students to gain hands-on experience in coding and robotics.
Other projects will develop CS and STEM internships, teacher training programs to increase the number of instructors in CS and STEM, and a mobile lab to provide STEM experiences for students experiencing homelessness. The onset of the pandemic caused grant distribution, which was originally intended to take place in the spring of 2020, to be placed on hold until now.
“The PAsmart initiative has established Pennsylvania as a nationwide leader in computer science and STEM learning,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “While the pandemic placed a temporary halt in the distribution of PAsmart resources, we are pleased to announce that we are now able to provide these grant funds to schools that are doing great work to advance STEM programs in the commonwealth. The Wolf administration has continued to ensure our students are college ready as evidenced through the success of the PAsmart Advancing Grants.”
Among the 26 recipients of the newly announced PAsmart Advancing Grants are:
- Pittsburgh School District, for “PPS PAsmart: A Pre-K-12 Vertical Approach to Holistic Learning”
- Spring Cove School District, for “PAsmart Rural Community Advancement Partnership”
- The Allegheny County Library Association and Chester County Intermediate Unit 24, for “From Incubator to Launch: Co-Creating a CS Ecosystem”
- The University City Science Center, for “FirstHand STEM Partnership for Inclusion and Regional Equity (STEMPIRE)”
- Luzerne Intermediate Unit 18, for “Carbon-Schuylkill-Luzerne STEM Ecosystem”
- Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8, for “Rural Access and Equity Partnership for CS/STEM”
A full list of recipients, projects, and award amounts can be found at PA Advancing Grants 2021.
Over the last three years, the Wolf Administration awarded 453 PAsmart grants to expand computer science classes and teacher training at over 765 schools across the commonwealth.
These investments in computer science and STEM education complement other commonwealth PAsmart initiatives: PAsmart Registered Apprenticeships, Pre-Apprenticeships, and Ambassador Network Grants, which expand access to apprenticeships and job training, and Next Generation Industry Partnership Grants. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry announced a total of $11.2 million in grant awards through these initiatives in 2020.