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These Philly youth STEM programs are getting a boost from the state

The grants come from a $10.8 million fund to expand access to computer science and STEM education for Pennsylvania learners.

An at-home FirstHand STEM kit. (Courtesy photo)

A handful of local programs have earned grants from Gov. Tom Wolf’s PAsmart, a $10.8 million fund to expand access to computer science and STEM education.

University City Science Center’s FirstHand STEM program for middle and high school students received nearly $188,000. FirstHand, launched in 2014, offers project-based and career-exposing programing to local schools and community organizations. Throughout 2020, the program worked with more than 250 middle and high schoolers from 12 Philly schools.

When learning turned virtual in March, the Science Center sent out custom STEM kits to students’ homes so they could continue hands-on learning at home. By July of last year, two new programs had been developed using the STEM kits, and from September to December, new chemistry and material science programs were developed with the custom STEM kits for weekly sessions and experiments, the org said.

These orgs also received funding:

  • Temple University partnering with the Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative got $500,000 to launch the North Philadelphia STEM Scholars Collaborative, a pre-apprenticeship pilot that will train students to earn programming certifications.
  • Philadelphia Education Fund got about $264,000 to bring “industry professionals together with classroom educators to build STEM learning and STEM career exploration for undeserved learners.”
  • La Salle University got nearly $125,000 for its STEM-C, or STEM Careers, initiative bringing STEM-focused workforce development programming to K-8 students and teachers “through environmentally-focused, problem-based, career-aligned learning experiences.”
  • West Chester University got nearly $500,000 to “expand student access and engagement in sustainable or ‘green’ STEM through teacher development, and engage students in creating a sustainable Philadelphia.”

“These grants will help our schools and communities to expand STEM and computer science education,” Wolf said in a statement. “That will strengthen our workforce, so businesses can grow, and workers have good jobs that can support a family.”

Companies: La Salle University / Temple University / University City Science Center

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