Grant Details

STEM Talent Challenge Grant

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    Funder Type

    Federal Government

    IT Classification

    B - Readily funds technology as part of an award


    Economic Development Administration (EDA)


    The STEM Talent Challenge aims to build STEM talent training systems to strengthen regional innovation economies. This competition seeks applications from eligible applicants that are creating and implementing STEM talent development strategies that complement their region's innovation economy, particularly as such strategies relate to emerging, transformative sectors and future industries such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced manufacturing and robotics, space exploration and commerce, bioscience, quantum information science, green products, processes and buildings, and aqua- and agricultural technologies.

    The STEM Talent Challenge is designed to help communities with implementing programs that align with the assessed needs of the region and its innovative businesses. Projects should implement or scale STEM competency-based work-and-learn education and training models that are directly connected with the needs of employers in a regional economy.

    Applicants should leverage partnerships with local and regional innovation leaders, including technology centers, business incubators and accelerators, community colleges, and STEM industry leaders such as technology startups, advanced manufacturers, life science businesses, and other similar entities. Projects should aim to identify opportunities in high-growth potential sectors, and to expand and empower the innovation economy workforce, including by:

    • Engaging regional entrepreneurs, innovators, and the organizations that support them to assess and forecast current and future talent needs and to develop collaborative solutions with work-based programs;
    • Building highly skilled talent and connecting it to highly technical opportunities that foster professional development and provide continuing advanced skills training to develop the technical and scientific workforce that regional innovation initiatives need;
    • Strengthening collaboration among entrepreneurs, industry leaders and employers, educational organizations, established corporations, economic and/or workforce development organizations, and the public sector to enable better access to skilled workers and to develop demand-driven workforce pipelines for the innovation economy; and
    • Placing new employees into immediate job openings with regional employers in need of STEM talent.

    History of Funding

    FY 2021 awards are available to view here:

    Additional Information

    Proposed projects may aim for some or all of the following outputs and outcomes or others, as appropriate, considering each proposed project's regional, sectoral, and economic contexts.

    • STEM Work-Based Learning and Training: Projects should focus on an interdisciplinary approach and utilize training models that provide workers with the experiences and skills they will need to succeed on-the-job and in real-world applications. These may include, but are not limited to, innovative industry-driven registered apprenticeships, fellowships, internships, and other cooperative employer-educator partnerships, and are not limited to existing industry definitions – experimentation and innovation is encouraged. Training should clearly align with the talent needs of those driving innovation in the region and should result in job placement for the participants in high-wage employment in highgrowth industries.
    • Increase Regional Innovation Capacity: Projects should increase the capacity of those driving innovation in the region by connecting regional innovation stakeholders and employers with workforce and talent development leaders or training providers. Programs should emphasize enabling the region's fast-paced technology startups and innovative companies to hire locally and decrease their costs and lead time to filling positions, allowing them to grow their teams and scale their businesses faster. Traditional workforce development programs may not have the expertise or networks to accomplish this – organizations that normally do not identify as workforce development organizations, but are driving regional innovation through worker training are encouraged to apply. These may include, but are not limited to eligible applicants that are business accelerators and incubators, digital economy training organizations, and venture development organizations. Please see Section C (p. 5) of this NOFO for eligibility information regarding the STEM Talent Challenge.
    • Increase Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in STEM: Projects should focus on enabling all members of a community to have equitable access to and participate in the innovation economy. Projects should seek to provide historically underserved and underrepresented communities with access to training and other tools to succeed. Project outcomes should include placement of program participants in well-paying, quality jobs in the STEM-related industry in which they receive training. Applicants should have relevant employer partners who are committed to hiring program participants and to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplace. 



  • Eligibility Details

    Eligible applicants for EDA financial assistance under this NOFO include:

    • A State;
    • An Indian tribe;
    • A city or other political subdivision of a State;
    • An entity that is—
      • a nonprofit organization,
      • an institution of higher education,
      • a public-private partnership,
      • a science or research park,
      • a Federal laboratory,
      • an economic development organization or similar entity;
      • and has an application that is supported by a State, a political subdivision of a State, or a native organization; or
    • A consortium of any of the eligible applicants listed above.

    EDA is not authorized to provide assistance to individuals under this Program. Applications from individuals will not be considered for funding.

    Deadline Details

    Applications are to be submitted by 11:59 Eastern Time on October 12, 2021. A similar deadline is anticipated, bi-annually.

    Award Details

    Up to $2,000,000 is available in total funding. Approximately 10 awards will be made in FY 2021. The maximum award amount is $250,000 over a 24-month period of performance. The estimated start date is February 1, 2022. The minimum required match for the STEM Talent Challenge is 1:1.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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