New Grants to Help More Students Pursue STEM Careers

Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. And we’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering and math -- the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill the jobs that are there right now and will be there in the future. -- President Obama, 2013 State of the Union

Last month, President Obama announced a new $100 million competition launched by the U.S. Department of Labor to help American high schools prepare students for college and for careers in a 21st century economy.

Computer Science Education Week is a perfect time to highlight this new Administration effort—called Youth CareerConnect—to inspire and prepare girls and boys in communities across the country to be the designers, programmers, engineers, and innovators of the future through increasing their access to hands-on, real-world-relevant education and skills.

Through Youth CareerConnect, up to 40 grants will be awarded to partnerships between local schools systems, employers, community colleges or universities, and others that are committed to strengthening America’s talent pipeline and providing students with industry-relevant education to prepare them for college and careers.

Schools and their partners will be challenged to focus on addressing key shortages in “H-1B fields”—occupations tied to the H1-B temporary-visa program, which are predominantly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

This is an exciting investment that will prepare more American students to be the innovators, researchers, engineers, and entrepreneurs of the future. This initiative also, in part, answers a call by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in its 2010 report on STEM K-12 Education, Prepare and Inspire, to increase the number of STEM-focused schools across the country.

Applicants will be judged on their efforts to serve a diverse student population, which will ensure access to preparation and training in the STEM fields for girls and minority groups currently underrepresented in many of these careers.

Importantly, the competition builds on the strong focus of OSTP and the White House Council on Women and Girls on increasing girls’ access to STEM fields and represents an important investment to both level the playing field for women and minority students and to provide them with the inspiration, access to career models, hands-on experiences, and rigorous curricula to prepare them to become the engineers, computer scientists, and other STEM leaders of the future. 

Success in this competition and meeting the broader challenge of giving all students access to real-world-relevant education experiences will require an all-hands-on-deck effort. That’s why Youth CareerConnect calls on businesses and institutions of higher education to join with school districts in putting together proposals to improve college and career readiness for more high school students.

Applications are due January 27, 2014, so learn more at:  http://www.doleta.gov/ycc/

Danielle Carnival is a Senior Policy Advisor at OSTP

Kumar Garg is Assistant Director for Learning and Innovation at OSTP

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