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U.S. Economic Development Administration: STEM Talent Challenge Program

Deadline: October 14, 2020

The STEM Talent Challenge Program will provide funding to entities to create and implement innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) apprenticeship models that complement their respective region’s innovation economy, particularly as they relate to emerging, transformative sectors and future industries such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced manufacturing and robotics, space exploration and commerce, bioscience, quantum information science, and aqua- and agricultural technologies. The STEM Talent Challenge seeks to develop or expand regional workforce capacity to support high-growth, high-wage entrepreneurial ventures, industries of the future (which usually includes industries that leverage emerging technologies), and other innovation-driven businesses that have a high likelihood of accelerating economic competitiveness and job creation in their respective regions and in the United States.

The Challenge is designed to help communities with two activities – planning and development, and program implementation.

If applicable, for Planning and Development activities:

  • Applicants should plan and develop an implementation strategy to address the unmet needs and existing barriers for regional STEM-capable workforces, through competency-based work-and-learn models across the continuum ranging from externships, to fellowships, internships, cooperative education, and apprenticeships. Applicants are encouraged to experiment and innovate. In general, planning and development should be complete within the first 6 months of award.
  • Strategies should be tied to a regional economy’s unique, competitive strengths and shared infrastructure as well as to clearly articulated labor market challenges demonstrated through a rigorous needs analysis
  • As noted above, planning and development activities are encouraged if no such plans currently exist, but are an optional component of the proposed project.

For Program Implementation activities:

  • Applicants should implement a new or expand an existing STEM competency-based work-and-learn education and training models that may result in nationally-recognized, portable and/or stackable credentials. Experimentation and innovation are encouraged.
  • Training should prioritize STEM skills tied to the use of emerging, transformative sectors and the needs of future industries as described within the solicitation (see STEM Talent Challenge Program Information section).
  • Training models should include on-the-job training at an employer in addition to classroom, remote, online, or blended learning, but can follow any existing or newly developed work-and-learn model; experimentation is encouraged.
  • Applicants should leverage partnerships with local and regional innovation leaders, including technology centers, business accelerators, community colleges, and STEM industry leaders such as technology startups, advanced manufacturers, life science businesses, and other similar entities.

For Program Implementation activities:

  • Applicants should implement a new or expand an existing STEM competency-based work-and-learn education and training models that may result in nationally-recognized, portable and/or stackable credentials. Experimentation and innovation are encouraged.
  • Training should prioritize STEM skills tied to the use of emerging, transformative sectors and the needs of future industries as described within the solicitation (see STEM Talent Challenge Program Information section).
  • Training models should include on-the-job training at an employer in addition to classroom, remote, online, or blended learning, but can follow any existing or newly developed work-and-learn model; experimentation is encouraged.
  • Applicants should leverage partnerships with local and regional innovation leaders, including technology centers, business accelerators, community colleges, and STEM industry leaders such as technology startups, advanced manufacturers, life science businesses, and other similar entities.

Proposed projects may aim for some or all of the following outputs and outcomes or others, as appropriate, considering each proposed project’s regional, sectoral, and economic contexts.

  1. STEM Work-Based Learning and Training: Projects should focus on an interdisciplinary approach and utilize training models that provide workers with the experiences and skills they will need to succeed on-the-job and in real-world applications (e.g., industry-driven apprenticeships, fellowships, internships). Note: While important to the development of a future workforce, general education programs such as those found in K-12 curriculums are not encouraged, unless part of a broader strategy in a STEM readiness program.
  2. Increase Regional Innovation Capacity: Projects should focus on connecting regional innovation stakeholders and employers with the workforce and talent development leaders of the region, or training providers who are readying tomorrow’s workforce.
  3. Increase Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in STEM: Projects should focus on enabling all members of a community to have equitable access to and participate in the innovation economy.
  4. Build Computational Expertise for the Digital Economy: Digital tools and the internet have profoundly transformed the economy and our approach to learning. The COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated these trends, and as such, a talent pool with computational literacy is imperative to remain globally competitive.

Amount: $2,000,000 is available to make up to 10 awards that range up to $300,000 over an 18 to 24-month period of performance, of which no more than $50,000 may support planning and development activities if such support is needed.

The minimum required match for the STEM Talent Challenge is 1:1.

Eligibility: State; Indian tribe; city or other political subdivision of a state; nonprofit organization, institution of higher education, public-private partnership, science, or research park, federal laboratory, an economic development organization or similar entity; that is supported by a state, a political subdivision of a State, or a native organization; or a consortium of any of the aforementioned eligible applicants.

Link: https://www.eda.gov/OIE/STEM/

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