Misericordia University is among 42 organizations across the Commonwealth to be awarded funding through the 2021-22 PAsmart Advancing Computer Science and STEM Education Grants Program. The university was awarded a grant in the amount of $375,750 in response to their proposal, "Teach STEM!: Strengthening the STEM Pipeline by increasing the number of culturally-responsive Computer Science and STEM teachers in Luzerne County.”
Launched by Governor Tom Wolf, PAsmart is an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PAsmart strategically invests resources in education and training opportunities to support Pennsylvania's economic growth now and in the future. According to the PAsmart website, over the next decade, most of the better paying jobs in Pennsylvania will require some form of education or training after high school, especially in the fast-growing fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and computer science.
"The success of our initiative is predicated on the collaboration amongst valued regional stakeholders such as the Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce. Joining us in this partnership are Luzerne Intermediate Unit-18 and the Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Development Board. Each of these organizations possess a unique, yet interconnected role focused toward alleviating the extreme teacher shortage, particularly in the secondary STEM field, that is impacting the quality of learning experienced by our young students spanning the county," said Colleen Duffy, Ed.D., chairperson, Teacher Education Department and director of Graduate Teacher Education at Misericordia University.
Additionally, through distinct partner-driven offerings such as new certification programs and professional development courses, the program looks to effectively reverse declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs. These efforts will supplement the STEM workforce pipeline by growing student interest in pursuing CS/STEM majors and careers.
Since 2018, the Wolf Administration has secured $60 million and strategically invested in education and workforce development through PAsmart. The Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board provided initial recommendations and approved the framework for the funding priorities.
Targeted and Advancing PAsmart grants support high-quality STEM and computer science learning and professional development opportunities to communities across Pennsylvania, including within early learning centers, libraries, out-of-school time providers, career and technical centers, post-secondary institutions, and K-12 schools. The department awarded a total of 438 PAsmart grants since the 2018-19 school year.