Berks County Intermediate Unit awarded $494,368 grant
State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-134th, recently congratulated Berks County Intermediate Unit on being selected to receive a PAsmart Grant in the amount of $494,368 to provide more STEM opportunities for area students.
“This is a significant grant that will help BCIU, in partnership with the Kutztown Area School District, reach more students with science, technology, engineering and math educational opportunities,” said Mackenzie. “I look forward to seeing the various programs implemented with the aid of this grant.”
PAsmart grants are designed to help expand classroom instruction and professional development in the fast-growing STEM and computer science fields, as well provide training for in-demand careers, emerging industries, and underserved populations.
The BCIU funding will be used to establish the Eastern Pennsylvania Innovation Catalyst Network, which will serve as a hub of innovation for Berks County.
The EPIC Network will concentrate much of its resources on reaching underserved populations, such as students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners, or those who are receiving special education services. The initiative is expected to impact more than 67,000 students.
“In order to ensure today’s students have future success in the workforce, we need to adequately prepare them,” said Mackenzie.
“That means we need to make sure they have the skills necessary to fill the jobs that are available.
“The jobs picture is rapidly changing from one focused almost exclusively on employees with a four-year college degree to one desperately in need of workers with specific hands-on skill sets.
The Baby Boomer population is retiring and thousands of jobs across the Commonwealth in the trades and other areas are being left unfulfilled. Furthermore, with advancements in manufacturing operations, employees with greater technical training are in demand,” said Mackenzie. “These are good-paying jobs that employers need to fill.”
Mackenzie, a longtime proponent of workforce development, noted that the PAsmart Grant will help BCIU expose many Berks County students to an educational path tailored for career success.