January 27, 2022

EDA: $2 Million in “STEM Talent Challenge” Grants Announced to Strengthen Innovation Workforce Pipeline

8 Organizations Receive Funding for Programs that Support Regional Industry Workforce Needs

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced the eight grant recipients of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) STEM Talent Challenge, a national competition that supports programs to train science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent to create a robust STEM-capable workforce across the country, and boost U.S. competitiveness on the global stage.

The annual $2 million “STEM Talent Challenge” provides up to $250,000 in funding for programs that put Americans across the country on paths to good-paying STEM jobs and careers. The grantees’ programs give industry sectors access to talent in their own communities to fill in-demand jobs, help drive innovation and strengthen regional economies across the nation.

“The Biden Administration believes that a robust STEM-capable workforce is key to America’s competitiveness in the global economy,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The STEM Talent Challenge projects will provide career pathways to fill the in-demand jobs that are critical to fuel business, innovation, productivity and good-paying jobs across the nation.”

“EDA is proud to partner with the STEM Talent Challenge grant recipients as they work with regional industries to build a strong workforce for tomorrow,” said Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “These innovative programs not only include work-and-learn opportunities and mentorship, but also targeted recruitment of women, people of color, rural residents and others from underserved communities to ensure that STEM fields are diverse, equitable and inclusive.”

Today, Assistant Secretary Castillo announced the eight STEM Talent Challenge grantees at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Penn., which is one of the grantees.

The eight awardees, selected from a pool of 77 applicants, will leverage an additional $2.5 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources. The grantees’ projects support work-and-learn programs to increase America’s STEM-capable workforce in the emerging and transformative sectors such as aerospace, biotechnology, geospatial technology, data science, agri-technology, information technology, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, health technology and electric vehicle transportation.

The STEM Talent Challenge grant recipients are:

Grantee: Chicanos Por La Causa (Phoenix, Arizona)
EDA Grant: $250,000
Local Match: $250,000
Sector: Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace
Project Description: The Virtual Reality STEM Workforce Program will provide virtual reality-based career exploration opportunities and trainings necessary to enter critical job sectors, primarily related to semiconductor manufacturing and the aerospace industry.

Grantee: LabCentral (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
EDA Grant: $249,624
Local Match: $580,576
Sector: Biotechnology
Project Description: The LabCentral Ignite Career Forge program – which seeks to make the biotechnology industry more diverse, equitable and inclusive – will match talent with jobs and internships within LabCentral’s network of startups and industry hiring organizations.

Grantee: Metropolitan Community College (Omaha, Nebraska)
EDA Grant: $248,873
Local Match: $264,596
Sector: Information Technology
Project Description: Project OCTEIN will strengthen the STEM talent pipeline for IT businesses with a new workforce model that features recruitment of underrepresented individuals, training and certification, job placement, work-based learning opportunities, and other programs.

Grantee: Purdue Polytechnic Anderson (Anderson, Indiana)
EDA Grant: $250,000
Local Match: $359,373
Sector: Manufacturing and Agri-Technology
Project Description: Purdue Polytechnic Anderson will build upon the success of several industry-driven pilot programs and use a community-driven approach known as Strategic Doing to transform to the bachelor’s degree curriculum into micro-credentialing and job placement programs.

Grantee: Rung for Women (St. Louis, Missouri)
EDA Grant: $250,000
Local Match: $250,000
Sector: Geospatial Technology
Project Description: The Women in Geospatial Careers program seeks to increase the number of women, especially women of color, in geospatial careers by providing coaching, training, support, and skill development needed to successfully enter geospatial careers.

Grantee: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)
EDA Grant: $219,182
Local Match: $228,764
Sector: Data Science and Health Technology
Project Description: The Magic City Data Collective will bring together students and data professionals in project teams to conduct real-world data analysis that provides students with critical skills and experience to move into in-demand jobs in the local health technology sector.

Grantee: The Wistar Institute (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
EDA Grant: $249,397
Local Match: $249,397
Sector: Biotechnology
Project Description: The Quality Science Pathway Apprenticeship will provide a unique pathway into quality science, a field which strives to ensure that products are free of defects, deficiencies, and significant variations, through job training, certification, and apprenticeship.

Grantee: Utah State University (Logan, Utah)
EDA Grant: $244,939.43
Local Match: $248,185.04
Sector: Advanced Manufacturing, Renewable Energy, and Electric Vehicle Transportation
Project Description: A work-based learning model will meet the talent needs of the advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, and electric vehicle transportation industries in Utah through internships, mentorship, and assessments that will reach about 350 engineering students, including 40 percent from traditionally unrepresented groups.

For more information, visit EDA’s STEM Talent Challenge webpage at https://www.eda.gov/oie/stem/.

EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) administers the STEM Talent Challenge, which is authorized under Section 28 of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Act of 1980.

This challenge builds on the momentum of EDA’s Build to Scale Program, which boosts regional economies through scalable startups.

The STEM Talent Challenge is one of many EDA programs aimed at building strong regional economies and supporting community-led economic development. EDA also was allocated $3 billion in supplemental funding under the American Rescue Plan to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. For more information about EDA’s American Rescue Plan programs, visit https://www.eda.gov/ARPA/.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

This post was originally published here.