Sainato: Nearly $370,000 in grants will expand regional job opportunities, foster STEM learning

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – Nearly $370,000 in state grants will expand job-training opportunities and broaden STEM learning for students and workers in western Pennsylvania, including Lawrence County, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced today. The grants are part of the PAsmart initiative.

Two grants totaling more than $323,000 will fund efforts to identify local needs and connect students and other job seekers to regional industries, with a focus on strengthening and expanding apprenticeship programs.

“Apprenticeships offer terrific ‘learn while you earn’ opportunities for young Pennsylvanians by teaching real-world skills under the guidance of an experienced mentor,” Sainato said. “At the same time, the programs allow area industries to develop a highly skilled workforce that’s targeted to their needs.”

A third grant of nearly $46,000 will develop high school students’ interest and skills in STEM subjects through the Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ robotics program.

“There is no substitute for hands-on learning, particularly in STEM fields, where science and engineering concepts lend themselves perfectly to projects that engage students’ minds,” Sainato said. “We’re stimulating kids’ creativity and at the same time creating a new generation of workers who are engaged with technology and ready to take on the demands of the modern workforce.”

The specific funding – which is shared among multiple legislative districts – includes:

  • A $280,555 Ambassador Network grant to Thomas P. Miller and Associates to convene a consortium of partners to identify needs, provide quarterly webinars and technical assistance and promote apprenticeship growth and retention.
  • A $43,252 Next Generation Manufacturing Industry Partnership grant to NWPA Job Connect to create a partnership in the advanced manufacturing industry.
  • A $45,950 pre-apprenticeship program grant to the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Foundation/BotsIQ to develop high school students’ interest in STEM subjects through the Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ program.

The Ambassador Network and pre-apprenticeship grants are administered by the state Department of Labor and Industry, while the Next Generation grant is administered by both L&I and the state Department of Community and Economic Development.