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Tennessee Department of Education Awards Over $700K for Middle School STEM Start-Up, CTE Career Exploration Grants

Tennessee Department of EducationNashville, TN – On Monday, November 23rd, 2020 the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) announced over $700,000 in additional grants will be awarded to districts to fund science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and middle school career and technical education (CTE).   

Funding is provided through Governor Lee’s Future Workforce Initiative, which is aimed at increasing access to CTE and STEM in the classroom. 

Over 30 Districts to Receive Grant Funding for Middle School STEM and CTE Education
Over 30 Districts to Receive Grant Funding for Middle School STEM and CTE Education

The Middle School STEM Start-Up Grants will be awarded to schools in 25 districts, and schools in 15 districts will be awarded CTE Career Exploration Grants, with a total of 89 schools receiving grants. To view a list of grant recipients, click here

“Ensuring our students have access to high-quality STEM and career and technical education is essential to building college and career readiness, and that work really begins before a student even enters high school,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. 

“Tennessee has worked diligently to align STEM and CTE coursework to provide students with clearer pathways when transitioning from middle to high school. This is such important work to helping all our students have access to post-secondary opportunities and be put on a pathway to success,”  Schwinn stated.

The Middle School STEM Start-Up and CTE Career Exploration Grants build upon the Best for All strategic plan to support all students exploring career paths and having access to post-secondary opportunities. Additionally, these grants directly support the goal of the Future Workforce Initiative to add an additional 100 new middle school STEM programs by 2022. 

“Cumberland County CCTE is very appreciative of receiving both STEM and Career Exploration Start-up grants,” said Dr. William Maddox, CTE Director of Cumberland County Schools. “Cumberland County has 3 teams of teachers that offer classes in STEM, Agriculture, and FACS that travel each day and serve 9 different K-8 schools. The STEM grant will allow our traveling teachers to provide VEX robotic instructional material at additional schools.  Cumberland County has also invested in Naviance software in order to implement career exploration in the 7-8 grades. The Career Exploration Start-Up grant will allow us to place computer carts in CCTE classrooms in order for students to use Naviance in career exploration.  Thanks again for giving Cumberland County this opportunity to better serve our students.” 

“Jackson-Madison County is so excited to receive the Middle School STEM Grant Award because it will allow our students to explore and solve real-world problems,” said Dr. Nathan Lewis, CTE Director of Jackson-Madison County Schools. “Our students will learn about the world of STEM through the use of a 3-D printer, robotics kits, medical exploration equipment, and hydroponics systems. Many students in Jackson have not been exposed to STEM concepts on a large-scale. JMCSS wants to expose students to careers that involve STEM and challenge them to prepare for these jobs. This grant will allow them to have tools to navigate learning in a whole new manner. Students will also have the opportunity to visit jobs that involve STEM in our local area. Teachers will be trained to bring STEM designed lessons into the classroom and prepare students as they use the equipment provided by this grant. Let the exploration begin!” 



“We are excited to be awarded the Start-Up Grants for our Middle School Career Exploration and STEM classes,” said Dr. Monica Smith, CCTE Middle Grades Manager for Shelby County Schools. “The Middle School Start-up Grants will afford us the opportunity to expose students to college and career options and equip them with the transferable skills they need to plan for and succeed in high school and beyond.” 

Districts were allowed to apply for each of the grants. In their applications, grant recipients demonstrated ability to align courses from middle school to high school, provide career guidance and advisement for students, and expand upon employer partnerships to create pathways for students. Grant funds will be available to districts on December 1, 2020. 

These grants build upon Middle School STEM Start-Up Grants, Middle School CTE Start-Up Grants, and EPSO (early post-secondary opportunities) Expansion Grants that were awarded to districts to promote this critical work last year. Read more about those grants here

For more information about the Middle School STEM Start-Up Grants or CTE Career Exploration grants, visit the department’s website


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