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Press Release

U.S. Department of Commerce Kicks Off STEM Talent Challenge, Strengthening Regional Innovation Economies

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the opening of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) STEM Talent Challenge, which aims to support organizations’ efforts to boost local science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) talent and workforce development models across the nation’s growing innovation economies.

The $2 million STEM Talent Challenge will provide funding to develop, implement, and expand new work-and-learn models to increase America’s STEM-capable workforce. It is designed to assist communities with grants up to $300,000 for two activities – planning and development, and program implementation. The deadline to apply for the Challenge is October 14, 2020.

“A skilled STEM workforce is key to America’s future economic success, and the Trump Administration supports communities’ efforts to train, reskill and upskill local talent,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “American businesses and entrepreneurs need more qualified employees to compete and succeed in the digital economy, and local innovation creates employer-driven models to encourage this skillset.”

“We want to draw on American ingenuity, creativity, and innovation with this challenge,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “By harnessing the expertise and passion of those already in the workforce, we can build STEM talent that goes beyond the classroom into real-world innovations.”

Competitive applications for this challenge will clearly communicate how eligible entities will develop or expand regional STEM workforce capacity to support high-growth, high-wage entrepreneurial ventures, industries of the future, and other innovation-driven businesses.

For more information, visit EDA’s STEM Talent Challenge webpage at

This challenge builds on the momentum of EDA’s Build to Scale Program, which builds regional economies through scalable startups. EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship will administer the STEM Talent Challenge, which is authorized through Section 28 of the Stevenson Wydler Technology Act.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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