Franklin County Libraries, GASD get a boost for STEM programming

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HARRISBURG – The Franklin County Library System and the Video Game Clubs of America will share in a grant for their Public Library STEM Club Initiative. The club will engage 50 public libraries in seven counties to promote computer science, STEM and social-emotional learning programs through gaming clubs for youth in grades 7-12.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District will also get a boost for its Building a Rural STEM Ecosystem: Growing Sustainable STEM Capacity in Franklin County and Beyond program.

The local programs are among 42 awarded funding.

State officials announced nearly $20 million in PAsmart Advancing Grants to expand access to computer science and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for learners across the commonwealth.

“Our historic investments in education throughout my administration are ensuring a better future for our children and a stronger Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “These PAsmart awards focused on STEM education are particularly valuable in putting commonwealth students on a path to the best jobs of the future.”

Projects funded by the PAsmart Advancing Grants range from the development of a K-12 data science pathway, to a project to increase the number of K-8 educators with computer science endorsements in northeastern PA, to engineering and digital fabrication experiences for elementary students, to a dedicated computer science-focused high school in Philadelphia.

“PAsmart prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow, no matter where they live in the commonwealth or where they plan to live in the future,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “Equitable access to STEM and computer science programs gives students from all walks of life the skills they need to obtain meaningful, family-sustaining careers, and these grants will provide thousands more learners the opportunity to build on their skillset, grow, and achieve.”

Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will be served by at least three of the projects awarded grants, and more than three-quarters of counties will be impacted by at least four different projects.

Over the past eight years, the Wolf Administration has invested $116 million in STEM education, and has secured $20 million annually for PAsmart. PDE has awarded 495 PAsmart grants to expand computer science and STEM education and teacher training at more than 765 schools across the commonwealth since the 2018-19 school year.

The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has projected that by 2028, there will be about 157,000 more occupations in Pennsylvania that require mathematics knowledge (representing 65% of all employment in the commonwealth), and about 125,000 more occupations that require knowledge in computers and electronics (representing 54% of all employment).