WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken, and Representative Tom Emmer today announced that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant to St. Cloud State University to recruit, retain, and support students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) disciplines. The NSF award of $4,999,656 will address first-year retention and the transition of community college students to a four-year university.
“STEM education can prepare young people for high-tech, high-demand jobs,” Klobuchar said. “This grant will help St. Cloud State University create a supportive learning environment for the future engineers and scientists of tomorrow.”
“I’m proud that this award will support students at St. Cloud State University and prepare them to compete in the 21st Century economy,” Franken said. “Students will be ready to take on high-skilled jobs after graduation and contribute to innovation in Minnesota and across our nation.”
“We are in the midst of a digital revolution, and it is imperative we keep up with the changing times to ensure and improve our future success,” Emmer said. “In order for the United States to remain competitive, we must cultivate the important STEM skills in the generation of tomorrow, and this grant will help do just that.”
The NSF “Academic Collaboration and Coordination Model to Ensure Student Success in STEM (ACCESS STEM): A Partnership to Improve, Recruitment, Retention, and Student Success” project provides research-based support services designed specifically for students who may be at risk of leaving their institution or STEM major.
Klobuchar, one of the founding co-chairs of the Diversifying Technology Caucus and co-chair of the Women’s High Tech Coalition, has been a leader in the effort to develop a strong science and engineering workforce ready for the jobs of tomorrow. Her bipartisan legislation to encourage, recruit, and support women in STEM fields, the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act and Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act, was signed into law by the President in January. Klobuchar’s provisions to require the Director of the NSF to consider recommendations from organizations representing underrepresented groups for the STEM Education Advisory Panel and allow for research to better understand factors relevant to the retention of STEM teachers from underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, were also signed into law in the reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science (COMPETES) Act. In 2015, Klobuchar’s bipartisan provisions allowing school districts to award funding to create a STEM-focused specialty school or enhance an existing STEM program within a school were signed into law as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
For many years, Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Education Committee, has been a leading champion of efforts to close the "skills gap," which has left many employers in Minnesota and across the country with millions of jobs they can't fill because they can't find enough trained workers. In the past several Congresses, Sen. Franken has pushed his Community College to Career Fund Act to incentivize businesses to partner with the state's community and technical colleges on training and support efforts. When the Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into law, Sen. Franken fought to include several provisions that targeted funding for STEM education and teacher professional development, ensuring that states would be able to recruit top-notch STEM educators and keep them in the classroom. And earlier this year, he introduced his new Advancing Career Pathways Innovation Act to encourage local K-12 school districts in Minnesota and across the country to also explore partnerships with businesses to expose elementary, middle, and high school students to a variety of career pathways.