The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council at the Iowa Department of Education is accepting applications for the STEM BEST® (Business Engaging Students and Teachers) Program, which is aimed at launching or expanding models specifically focused on creating project-based learning opportunities.

The goal of the awards is to enable students to develop future-focused, high-demand skills to ensure success in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) pathways.

Iowa public and nonpublic school districts and buildings serving students in grades K-12 may apply for the competitive grant opportunity, which offers awards up to $40,000. The deadline for submitting applications is Dec. 13.

The STEM BEST Program encourages teachers and industry professionals to design project-based learning models that combine STEM subjects with hands-on learning. These experiences highlight the essential skills needed in the workplace and give students the opportunity to learn about different industries and businesses and explore potential career paths in high-demand sectors.

The STEM BEST Program provides both expertise and funding to support the development of workplace-connected curriculum.

Award may be used for many things, including facility upgrades, the purchase of industry-grade equipment, acquiring additional space, travel needs for exploration, and costs associated with planning with partners and integrating curriculum into existing courses.

In addition to acquiring high-demand skills, the projects should help students hone key 21st century skills, such as innovative thinking, problem solving, and complex communication and collaboration.

An applicant is required to provide a 2:1 match. For instance, if a school is seeking the full $40,000, it would need to have $20,000 to invest in the project, as well. The match may be either cash and/or in-kind support and the match may be contributed by the applicant or a community partner. To be eligible as a match, the cash and/or in-kind contribution must be provided during the funding period of the STEM BEST® Program award.

Read more about the STEM BEST Program and learn how to apply.

About the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council: Established in July 2011 via Governor’s Executive Order, the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership of educators, companies and Iowa students and families addressing policies and programs designed to improve Iowa’s educational system focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The STEM Council works to engage and prepare students for a career-ready workforce path, regain our state’s historic leadership position in education and provide a vital competitive economic advantage now, and for the future, to ensure that every Iowa student has access to world-class STEM education opportunities. The 50-member STEM Council is co-chaired by Governor Kim Reynolds and Foundation Analytical Laboratory Owner and Director of Technical Services Diane Young.

Effective July 1, 2023, the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council became part of the Iowa Department of Education. This change was part of a broader state government realignment to bring together entities working with similar subject matter. Iowa can expect the same quality services they have come to expect while benefiting from strengthened connections and coordination between programs that support college and career readiness. Read more about the council.