Plymouth, Ind. - The United Way of Marshall County (United Way) and the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) announced that all K-12 schools in Marshall County are eligible to participate in the regional STEM Education Initiative announced on Saturday morning by Project Lead The Way (PLTW), the nation’s leading provider of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs, and the Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth (CPEG) at a STEM teacher training program held at the University of Notre Dame.
PLTW announced that Northern Indiana was selected to become a model region for PLTW, providing all K-12 schools, both public and private, in a five-county area with the opportunity to implement PLTW’s rigorous, world-class STEM programs in engineering, biomedical science, and computer science.The partnership creates a $4.4 million matching grant pilot program to offset startup costs associated with teacher training, participation fees, and required equipment and will be available to schools for the 2014-15 school year through 2016. Schools in the five-county area of Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph may begin applying for grant funds immediately. Applications for the 2014-15 academic year are due March 31, and schools will be accepted and notified in April.
To be selected as a model region, the United Way and MCEDC had to raise over $250,000 for Marshall County schools to participate.
“The response from businesses, local units of government, and community leaders across the county was quick and overwhelmingly positive,” said Linda Yoder, Executive Director for the United Way of Marshall County and the Marshall County Community Foundation. “The opportunity to establish a much higher concentration of PLTW’s STEM curriculum in this region is compelling in terms of both developing a competitive workforce to boost the local economy and improving the quality of life for individuals who live and work here."
In addition to providing every student with access to PLTW, the regional partnership with PLTW engages the local community, business and industry and will help develop a robust talent pipeline for those businesses and industries.
“We have offered the design PLTW classes in the junior high and the high school for the last five years. Besides being very popular with our students, these classes have become a bridge to the labor force and schools of engineering. The classes are rigorous, but students from all walks of life excel in the curriculum,” said Dan Tyree, Superintendent of Plymouth School Corporation.
In addition to Marshall County, the counties of Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko and St. Joseph Counties are participating.
The funding for Marshall County was raised from a combination of business and industry, economic development organizations, community foundations, colleges and universities, local nonprofits, and individual philanthropists. Those donors include Argos Town Council, Bourbon Town Council, Bremen Redevelopment Commission, Culver Redevelopment Commission, First State Bank of Bourbon, Marshall County Community Foundation, Inc., Marshall County Economic Development Corporation, Plymouth Redevelopment Commission, Ralph and Louise Mason, St Joseph Regional Medical Center –Plymouth, United Way of Marshall County, Inc, Universal Bearings LLC, Weidner and Company P.C. and Wiers International Trucks.
PLTW is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Indianapolis, providing STEM programs and high-quality teacher professional development to more than 5,000 schools across the United States, including 345 schools in Indiana. PLTW’s five programs include PLTW Launch TM for grades K-5, PLTW Gateway TM for students in grades 6-8, and PLTW Engineering TM, PLTW Biomedical Science TM, and PLTW Computer Science TMfor high school students. By aligning with PLTW, CPEG and its member organizations are able to offer more students access to the rigorous STEM programs that will prepare Northern Indiana students for the global economy.
STEM jobs are growing at a rate of 18 percent, nearly twice the rate of other fields. By 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates 1.2 million unfilled jobs in STEM fields due to a widening skills gap. In Indiana, 123,000 new STEM jobs will exist by 2018, the majority of which will be computer and mathematical scientists, engineers, and engineering technicians. STEM jobs are among the country’s highest paying jobs.