Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz's (D-Essex) bill creating an NJ Innovation Inspiration School Grant program was approved by the Senate Education Committee. The bill aims to encourage student interest in science, tech, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs in the state. "Expanding STEM programs in our school districts and encouraging more students to study these subject areas will ensure that our students are better equipped for employment in a high-tech, 21st Century economy," she said.
The bill (S-2562) would establish the pilot program within the department of education. The program would award grants to school districts to support non-traditional STEM teaching methods for students in grades 9 through 12. It would support the participation of students in nonprofit STEM competitions, for example. The Department of Education would award a total of six one time up-front grants of up to $150,000 each to districts around the state. Districts would have to secure matching funds or in-kind contributions of 25 percent of the grant amount.
The bill is heading to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.