(Feb. 11, 2021) -Today, the Tennessee Department of Education announced nearly $7 million in grants has been awarded to Tennessee to strengthen computer science pathways and STEM education and help more students be prepared for success after high school. With local, state, and national partners, Tennessee has been awarded the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) early phase grant for $4,000,000 and was one of only four states to be awarded the Out-of-School Time Career Pathway Program grant for $2,900,000.
“Thanks to longstanding partnerships with local and national partners, Tennessee is receiving nearly $7 million dollars to strengthen high school achievement, boost postsecondary enrollment and directly benefit Tennessee high school students,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “These grants will help ensure students are given additional opportunities to earn credit and build critical skills before leaving high school, which we know is essential for the success of our students and our state.”
The EIR Early Phase Grant will support a new initiative, the Tennessee SySTEM for College and Career Readiness Project, that will leverage innovative industry-postsecondary partnerships to expand STEM and computer science strategies, including embedded work-based learning opportunities, in 20 high schools across Tennessee. By partnering with regional postsecondary institutions and employers, students will be able to simultaneously earn early postsecondary (EPSO) credit and gain workplace skills that prepare them to enter and succeed in careers in STEM and computer science.
The Tennessee SySTEM for College and Career Readiness Project is developed in partnership with JFF (Jobs for the Future) and the American Institute for Research (AIR), and participating schools will be selected through a competitive grant process that the department will launch this summer.
"JFF is excited to deepen our long-time partnership with the Tennessee Department of Education through the new Tennessee SySTEM for College and Career Readiness Project,” said Joel Vargas, Vice President at JFF. “It is a privilege to support the state in building on its tradition of innovation by expanding work-based courses in STEM and computer science that improve college and career outcomes for high schoolers."
The Out-of-School Time Career Pathway Programs grant will launch the Tennessee Expansion of Computer Science Career (TEC) Pathways Project, which is aligned with Governor Bill Lee’s Future Workforce Initiative and will expand computer science and STEM pathways in rural communities across the state.
Led by the department in partnership with the Greater Nashville Technology Council (NTC), the new TEC Pathways Project will bring together five rural school districts and postsecondary and industry partners to help improve the outcomes of rural and high-need students and promote the growth of computer science pathways in rural communities through virtual expanded learning opportunities and out-of-school programs.
Tennessee districts were eligible to apply to participate in the TEC Pathways Project if they met two criteria of the federal grant: be in a rural community and offer out-of-school programs through the 21st Century Learning Center federal program. The five districts that will participate in the TEC Pathways Project are White County Schools, Hamblen County Schools, Gibson County Special School District, Cocke County Schools and Trenton Special School District.
“Through the Tennessee Expansion of Computer Science Career Pathways Project, the Greater Nashville Technology Council is grateful to continue the long-standing relationship with the Tennessee Department of Education to expand STEM pathways in rural communities across the state,”said Sandi Hoff, Chief of Staff, Greater Nashville Technology Council. “The NTC looks forward to coordinating work-based learning experiences, to connect rural students with local tech professionals in our community, so students may explore and train for IT careers and pursue postsecondary education in the tech industry.”
For additional information about Tennessee’s Career and Technical Education initiatives and programs, including Tennessee Pathways, click here.