President Trump announced a $200 million federal grant program to fund education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for public schools on Monday. The grants will be used to facilitate training students in disciplines where the American workforce currently falls short.
Trump’s announcement hinted that the grants will aim to increase STEM participation by women and minorities who are currently under-represented in these fields. The new program grants $200 million each year to facilitate STEM education for American students, beginning at a young age.
Trump’s daughter and Senior Adviser, Ivanka Trump Kushner, played a major role in designing this grant program. She hailed the grants as a step forward for America’s future workforce.
She said, “In recent years with growing technological advancements, the nature of our workforce has increasingly shifted to jobs requiring a different skill set, specifically in coding and computer science.”
The announcement implies that our country’s schools are not adequately preparing students with the skills that these jobs require. Americans are left without jobs, and companies in America hire foreign workers on H-1B visas (or move their operations overseas). Creating good jobs does nothing for Americans who aren’t equipped to fill them, and both Donald and Ivanka Trump hope that this will bring American schools up to speed. With the Trumps setting the wheels of this program in motion, it will be left up to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to oversee its implementation.
The groundbreaking program may slightly alleviate the criticism of Ivanka, who many claimed was not doing enough to advocate for women. Ivanka stepped back from debate about the wage gap, and critics seized on that moment as a sign she was not personally invested in advancing women. This is Ivanka’s $200 million answer to those who painted her as disinterested in the cause of women in business.
The program doesn’t come cheap, but it is not a new expense for the American taxpayer. Politico reports that, according to Trump Administration officials, “The grants won’t require congressional approval or new appropriations…because they will rely on existing Education Department funds.”
As the Trump Administration rolls out this new venture, it does not act alone. The grant program is the result of extensive public-private partnerships. Ivanka will travel to Detroit on Tuesday, where Quicken Loans Chairman Dan Gilbert will announce support and funding for this initiative. CEO of Lockheed Martin, Marillyn A. Hewson, will also have a role in the event. General Motors executives are expected to make a similar announcement on the same day.
Schools are changing, and changing for the better. Any millennial student can repeat the refrain, “mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell,” but only a tiny fraction of us have ever used that in our jobs. Tomorrow’s students, however, will learn how to code – and be prepared for growing industries in a technological world.