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Chevron fuels STEM education with $900k in grants for Project Lead the Way

Amanda Waltz
May31/ 2016

Chevron hopes to fuel its future workforce by investing in a pipeline of young scientists and engineers.

The leading energy company with natural gas operations based in Moon Township is bringing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs to Pittsburgh area schools, thanks to a partnership with Project Lead the Way (PLTW). PLTW, a national nonprofit that provides learning experiences for K-12 students and teachers, announced plans earlier this month to introduce its STEM-based education curriculum to elementary, middle and high schools in and around Pittsburgh. Chevron will provide an additional $900,000 for a new grant cycle that will bring up to 30 additional new PLTW programs to schools in the region.

The commitment is part of the Appalachia Partnership Initiative (API), a long-term investment that addresses educational and workforce development challenges across 27 counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. In addition to Chevron, the API receives local support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Grable Foundation and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development as well as the RAND Corporation, which serves in a research and evaluation role.

Chevron, The Grable Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation distributed $520,000 in grants last month to 26 southwestern Pennsylvania school districts to design STEAM learning programs. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

Jennifer Cahill, senior director of media and PR at PLTW, says the move is part of Chevron’s continuing efforts to bring STEM education to schools throughout the country, primarily where the company has locations. Since 2009, the company has provided over $14 million in grants to help PLTW roll out its programs in schools across the country.

“That came about from Chevron’s desire to help students develop an interest and a passion in science, technology, engineering and math, and hopefully they’ll go on to study those subjects in college and become the future scientists and engineers that Chevron very much need for their workforce,” says Cahill.

The PLTW approach provides schools with the grant funding and tools to implement hands-on courses covering a wide range of subjects, from robotics to environmental sustainability. PLTW’s approach to teacher training distinguishes it from other STEM programs, Cahill explains.

“Every teacher involved in a PLTW course will go through the rigorous professional development that makes sure they have all the knowledge and all the skills they need to help lead the project-based learning environment in their classrooms,” she adds.

So far, PLTW STEM programs have been implemented in 57 schools throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, including the Frazier School District in Fayette County. Grant applications for this latest round will begin this fall through the PLTW website.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared in The Pittsburgh City Paper, The Syracuse Post-Standard and Pop City. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.