Iowa intros plan to boost grade school computer education

DES MOINES, Iowa-  The state of Iowa's launching a program called "Computer Science is Elementary," and offering $50,000 planning grants to the state's high-poverty elementary schools.

Governor Reynolds says the grants will help train computer science teachers, and better prepare students.  The program also has a goal that the chosen schools will also be a  resource for teaching students in the early grades.

Schools can apply for the grants between now and the end of March.

The funds were raised privately, by a number industries connected to STEM fields.This summer, the state will announce which six schools will get the grants.

“Tomorrow’s workforce is sitting in the classroom right now! Computer Science is Elementary builds on our efforts to expand STEM education across Iowa, including a $1 million fund to train our computer science teacher workforce,” said Gov. Reynolds. “With a societal digital transformation under way, computer science is a new basic skill students must have. I want to sincerely thank Westridge and the West Des Moines Community Schools for their commitment to STEM education.”

Eligible school districts and nonpublic school systems must have at least one elementary building with at least 40 percent of students taking free or reduced-price lunch. Stand-alone nonpublic schools may also apply. 

The following private sector partners have contributed to the program:  Collins Aerospace as the lead sponsor, Principal Financial Group, MidAmerican Energy, Kemin Industries, Microsoft, Google, ITC Midwest, Alliant Energy, Technology Association of Iowa, Verizon, Paragon IT, AT&T, School Administrators of Iowa, Workiva, Pella Rolscreen Foundation, Merchant Bonding, Bankers Trust and Linc Kroeger.

For more information or to apply for the Computer Science is Elementary project, visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/cselementary.

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