U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Colorado State Director Sallie Clark announced today a $394,653 grant for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educational programs to Fremont County Economic Development Corporation (FEDC). The funding is being provided the funding through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program.
The project will focus on providing STEM-related classes for Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) and FEDC TechSTART Intern Program students. It will also assist Pueblo Community College in providing STEM-related distance learning to its high schools enrolled in concurrent enrollment. In 2018, Cañon City High School became the first rural school in the nation and fourth in Colorado to be awarded a PTECH Grant. The grant provides all qualifying students an opportunity to have their first two years of college paid for by the state and continue their education debt free through an Associate’s Degree. FEDC TechSTART is the main business partner for the PTech program providing mentoring and internship opportunities.
The USDA Rural Development Grant will directly link the Florence Primary Site; FEDC TechSTART; Pueblo Community College Fremont Campus; Canon City, Florence, Cotopaxi, Custer County and Cotopaxi high schools; Goal Academy and AIM Academy with state-of-the-art technology to assist with training. It will also provide access to cutting-edge training courses for a wide range of technology businesses.
“This grant illustrates how USDA is addressing the Call to Action for Supporting a Rural Workforce highlighted in the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report. For a rural community to thrive, it needs job opportunities and individuals with the right skillset to fill those jobs,” said Clark. “Training, education, and workforce reliability in the local area is critical in supporting economic development. The students taking part in these classes will now have more opportunities available when entering the workplace,” said Clark.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/co.