What Are STEM Grants and How to Discover Them?
STEM grants are available now for use in implementing a STEM program, purchasing equipment for a STEM program, teacher training, and more. PLTW offers STEM grants for qualifying schools and districts.
For many people in the United States, our educational experiences set the foundation for the paths we decide to take. Students frequently get early exposure to the careers their parents hold, like teachers, mechanics, lawyers, nurses, cooks, IT professionals, service members, and so on, but how can the skills used in those roles be amplified and integrated into the school experience? There are organizations across the country that provide targeted student experiences in PreK-12 STEM curriculum. These experiences engage students in hands-on classroom activities that help students develop the in-demand knowledge and skills they need to excel in any career.
Sounds great, right? So why aren’t more schools opting into this type of learning experience? It’s because there’s lack of funding.
Funding continues to be and will likely remain a barrier for progressive reform in education, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution because our schools vary from city to city and state to state. But, when it comes to implementing a quality program that not only shifts the learning experience but also reinforces skills needed for every career, educators can look toward STEM grants to help cover costs.
Before we dig in specifically to STEM grants, let’s briefly cover what STEM is and why we’re talking about STEM grants as a solution to funding barriers for an enhanced student experience focused on skills everyone needs. Already comfortable with STEM? Skip to the next section.
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math, but it also encompasses a unique hands-on, problem-based approach to teaching that connects students in the classroom to real-world roles and careers.
Ed.gov gives a concise background of the why regarding STEM. Acknowledging that the world is changing and that we need to be prepared to change with it, we need to develop, “skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions. These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering, and math, including computer science—disciplines collectively known as STEM/CS.”
Now that we have a base understanding, we can dig into a little more about STEM grants specifically.
So, what are STEM grants?
A STEM grant is funding to help implement and/or sustain a STEM program. These grants have varied uses and are awarded based on a financial need, unlike a scholarship, which might be merit based. The type of funding and use is determined by each grant. Some STEM grants focus on the implementation of the actual STEM curricula, some will help cover costs for the equipment used in those science, technology, engineering, math, and computer science classes, and some even cover the cost of teacher training and professional development to help educators without a STEM background be able to teach those courses.
Who offers STEM grants?
More and more STEM grants are being offered across the country by organizations. Some organizations offer these opportunities as part of community initiatives or corporate social responsibility, but as more grants are announced, we are seeing a shift in that thinking. This isn’t a gift; it is an investment in the future workforce. Companies want employees who are prepared to communicate effectively, think critically, work as a team, and solve problems.
What companies support STEM grants?
You can search “STEM grants” in your preferred web browser and see a variety of options that may fit your need or visit ed.gov/STEM for a listing of discretionary grants that are promoted by the U.S. Department of Education. Project Lead The Way (PLTW) also has STEM grants available to implement their programs.
PLTW works with companies and foundations across the U.S. to provide school grant opportunities to implement or expand PLTW programs. Over the last 10 years, with support from generous partners, PLTW has distributed over $75 million in school grants to more than 6,600 PreK-12 schools.
Many organizations partner with PLTW to provide STEM grants. Check out all available opportunities here.
Want to Get Started With PLTW?
Are you ready to start empowering students with the skills everyone needs to thrive in their career? PLTW Team Members are ready to help you create a customized funding plan. Worried about sustaining your program post-grant? Don’t be! The PLTW team is here to help you plan for long term program sustainability too.
PLTW provides PreK-12 schools, teachers, and students with hands-on, interdisciplinary STEM-based curriculum that uniquely prepares students for life and their future careers.
PLTW rejuvenates teachers, providing world-class experiences that keep them on the forefront of how to prepare students for the demands of tomorrow. PLTW:
- Has provided professional development opportunities to more than 80,000 teachers giving them the support and resources needed to inspire students
- Offers best-in-class teacher training: PLTW Core Training with Master Teachers
- Continuously updates teacher resources that are available on demand
- Facilitates teacher networking opportunities
- Develops curriculum by a team of writers, many of whom are former teachers
Learn more about PLTW on pltw.org.