Sept. 26 (UPI) — President Donald Trump on Monday directed the Department of Education to work toward funding $200 million in grants each year for science, technology, engineering and math education programs.
He signed a memorandum boosting STEM education funding in the Oval Office surrounded by members of his Cabinet, Congress and some 50 schoolchildren.
“The workplace is changing. We need to create new pathways for our citizens to get the best jobs,” the president said. “Greater access to STEM and computer science programs will ensure that our children can develop the skills they need to compete and to win in the workforce of tomorrow.”
The White House acknowledged the need to encourage more girls, young women, minorities and students in rural communities to pursue STEM and computer science education.
In addition to the grant funding, the memo orders the Department of Education to find a way to increase focus on computer science in existing K-12 and post-secondary education programs.
This isn’t the first time the president has made women in STEM programs a priority of his administration.
In March, with daughter Ivanka Trump on hand, he signed the Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers Women Act. It required NASA to encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to pursue careers in aerospace and to advance the United States’ space exploration efforts.
Ivanka Trump also spoke at Monday’s memorandum signing, saying it puts a focus on putting Americans to work.
“Today represents a giant leap forward as we think about aligning the skills that are taught in the classroom with the skills that are in demand in the modern economy,” she said.
Former President Barack Obama also made STEM programs a priority of his administration, holding several science fairs at the White House and inviting budding young scientists to show off their projects.