Continuing Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce, Department of Education Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Matthew Stem recently joined representatives from the Eastern Pennsylvania Innovation Catalyst Network (EPIC) to announce a $494,368 PAsmart advancing grant has been awarded to the network.

The state grant will help EPIC, which includes the Kutztown Area School District and Berks County Intermediate Unit (IU), establish a hub of innovation in Berks County rooted in STEM and computer science education for the county and for rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.

“The PAsmart grant will enable the EPIC partnership to expand vital STEM opportunities to more than 67,000 students,” said Stem, who was visiting the IU as part of the Wolf Administration’s Schools That Teach Tour. “Equally important, the programs funded by the grant will reach underserved student populations, including English language learners and special education students.”

The grant is one of $9.6 million in PAsmart advancing grants announced February 11 by Governor Wolf to enhance science and technology education in schools statewide.

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 and nearly $10 million to expand apprenticeships and job training.

The governor’s budget unveiled this month 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 also created the Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center to expand the collaboration between government and the private sector to address the skills gap and worker shortages. 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 help Pennsylvania build the strongest workforce in the nation.

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. 

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