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Senator Kamala Harris introduced a new bill titled the 21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act, which aims to help underrepresented communities gain access to educational materials, mentorships and work experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
The bill will establish a competitive grant program worth $40 million to school districts for improving STEM education an involvement for girls, students of color, LBGTQ students, disabled students and those from low-income neighborhoods.
If passed, the funding will be used towards
- Tutoring and mentoring programs;
- After school and summer activities designed to encourage interest and skill-building in STEM;
- Subsidies for education materials, equipment, field trips, work experiences and more;
- Educating parents on the advantages of STEM careers; and
- Providing training to school personnel aimed at reducing gender and racial bias.
“When we have more women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and people with disabilities in STEM jobs, we get better results,” states Harris in a press release. “Preparing our nation’s students for the jobs of the 21st century starts in the classroom, and we must ensure that the benefits of that education are shared equally with those who are currently underrepresented in STEM professions.”
In helping fund school districts to provide girls and other minority students more educational and training opportunities in STEM, the bill is also providing the foundation for underrepresented groups to attain higher-paying jobs after school. As of now, 69 percent of U.S. workers in STEM are white; in contrast, 9 percent are black and 7 percent are Hispanic.
Read more about the proposed legislation here.