The Trump administration announced Monday that it would offer at least $200 million in grant funding annually for programs that offer science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and particularly computer science education.
With 6 million job openings in the United States, administration officials said it was making the pledge to extend computer science education because of a skills gap.
Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump and an adviser to the administration, said less than half of kindergarten through 12th grade schools in the U.S. offer a single computer course. She plans to head to Detroit on Tuesday with tech leaders from Microsoft, Code.org and others.
“As a country we want to embrace innovation, but we need to plan for it,” she said.
The grant program is not new. President Trump was expected to sign a presidential memorandum on the program Monday at the White House, directing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to prioritize STEM education, with a focus on computer science, in existing competitive grant programs. STEM education involves specific disciplines taught together in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.
The announcement is expected to be followed Tuesday with pledges from businesses, such as Google and Facebook.
Ivanka Trump noted that women make up 22 percent of the technology work force, down from 35 percent in 1990. While designing their programs, grant seekers should keep “gender and racial diversity in mind,” she said.
The program’s goal is to offer every student in the country access to technology education, said a senior administration official.
“We want it to reach across the country,” said the official. “Certainly that includes areas that are under-represented…We can’t allow our students to be left behind.”