The Department of Labor announced the availability of a grant for organizations to teach STEM skills to native youth and young adults in Hawaii and Alaska.

The DOL announced on March 9 that it has $497,000 to give to organizations that will help native youth develop skills needed for in-demand occupations and industries. The DOL aims to increase Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native enrollment in STEM-related certificate and degree programs, as well as provide education mentoring programs and work experience in STEM-related professions.

Public and private nonprofit organizations, tribal organizations, American Indian tribal colleges or universities, and institutions of higher education are eligible to apply by April 7.

Forty-one percent of Americans living on tribal lands lack access to broadband compared to 6 percent of total Americans, according to the Federal Communications Commission. This is one factor that causes native youth to fall behind the rest of the country in STEM skills.

Loris Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Native Public Media, said in October that extra initiatives are needed to bring Native Americans up to speed.

“One size does not fit all,” Taylor said.

Dot Harris, former director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity for the Department of Energy, attended InterTribal Youth Summit in Maryland in 2012 to discuss the benefits of STEM education to youth from Tribal Nations around the United States.

“American Indian students, whether enrolled in undergraduate or in K-12, need to acquire the education and skills to enter careers in STEM fields to have an impact on their energy futures,” Harris said. “Students often recognize the importance of reinvesting their knowledge in STEM back into their home communities, bringing their skills back to their home tribes or urban neighbors.”

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.