Johnstown, PA - As part of Governor Wolf’s plan to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce, Department of Education (PDE) Secretary Pedro A. Rivera today joined representatives from the Southern Alleghenies STEM Ecosystem at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College to announce a $498,000 PAsmart advancing grant has been awarded to the ecosystem. The state grant will help the ecosystem build on existing partnerships, taking a more comprehensive approach to addressing workforce needs in the region.
The grant is one of $9.6 million in PAsmart advancing grants announced Monday by Governor Wolf to enhance science and technology education in schools statewide.
“We must engage our students at every level with the information and skills needed to succeed in the 21st century and beyond,” said Secretary Rivera, who was visiting the community college as part of the Wolf Administration’s Schools That Teach Tour. “The advancing grants will provide STEM-related opportunities for kids in elementary and middle school and will connect high school and college students to local industries.”
The Southern Alleghenies STEM Ecosystem serves a population of 379,492 residents in Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Somerset counties. The area colleges and universities, intermediate unit, and school districts which comprise the ecosystem will use the grant funding to develop teacher training and parent training opportunities in increasing STEM awareness. In addition, they will also work directly with schools to engage students in grades K-8 in STEM-related activities. These activities will continue through out-of-school and summer activities coordinated with the public libraries in the region.
The business and industry partners, in collaboration with Johnstown Area Regional Industries and the CareerLink, will continue to develop activities that address dislocated workers and engage those who are not connected to the workforce. Also, they will collaborate with local school districts to connect teachers and students directly with industry through industry tours, job shadowing, and in-class presentations.
Governor Wolf launched PAsmart last year as a groundbreaking approach to prepare students and workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow through STEM and computer science education, apprenticeship and job training. Combined with $8.7 million in PAsmart targeted grants announced last month, the Wolf administration has awarded nearly $20 million this year to bolster STEM and computer science in schools.
Separate PAsmart grants to increase apprenticeships and job training have been announced in northwest, southwest and north central regions of the commonwealth. Additional job training grants will be announced this week.
The governor’s budget unveiled last week builds on the success of PAsmart to create opportunities for Pennsylvanians from birth to retirement. The governor’s Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program (SWEAP) expands access to early childhood education, increases investments in schools, and partners with the private sector to build on the PAsmart initiative.
The governor is also creating the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center to bring together government, schools and industry like never before. The departments of Community and Economic Development, Labor & Industry, and State will work with external leaders including Chamber of Business and Industry President Gene Barr, and AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale to find innovative solutions that close the skills gap.
Investing in schools and improving education for all students has been the hallmark of Governor Wolf’s vision for Schools That Teach. Under his leadership, Pennsylvania has increased access to high-quality education to ensure all students, regardless of zip code, are college and career ready.
Through the Schools That Teach Initiative, Wolf Administration officials from multiple agencies have visited dozens of schools across the state since 2015. View a Google Map of all tour stops.
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