NEW BEDFORD – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $480,000 in funding to three Massachusetts high schools for hands-on learning and academic training programs that prepare students to pursue clean energy and STEM higher education majors and careers. The grants, totaling $160,000 each, were awarded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School, Greater Lawrence Technical School, and Norfolk County Agricultural High School. The funding was announced at at MassCEC’s New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, where a group of students currently participating in the Learn and Earn program were given a tour of the facility as well as a presentation from offshore wind developer Vineyard Wind.
“Massachusetts is home to a thriving clean energy sector and this investment in our students will help build a workforce that will sustain the Commonwealth’s vibrant innovation economy for generations to come,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Providing new opportunities for STEM education for our students will reinforce the Commonwealth’s position as a national leader of innovation.”
“Designing curriculum that exposes high school students to STEM-related fields will help develop the next generation of Massachusetts workers,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By creating these new, innovative opportunities for hands-on learning, our administration is helping students to gain the necessary skills to compete in the Commonwealth’s innovation economy.”
The Learn and Earn program provides grants to schools for programs to prepare high school students for higher learning opportunities and careers in clean energy and STEM fields. Selected applicants will design and deliver a training program to high school students that provides career exploration, work readiness training, paid work-based learning that focuses on clean energy and dual enrollment that provides credit from a high education institution.
“Massachusetts’ vibrant clean energy industry continues to grow, and through this program we are helping students develop the skills necessary to take advantage of the associated job opportunities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Learn and Earn ensures that we are positioning Massachusetts’ students to participate in the Commonwealth’s nation-leading innovation economy.”
“Building the pipeline of students interested in studying and working in STEM is critical for the Commonwealth,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “We need to both ensure that the state’s STEM employers have highly skilled employees, and at the same time, that our students are prepared for career opportunities in growing industries. In providing students opportunities to learn about STEM careers firsthand, these grants meet both of those goals.”
“By working hand-in-hand with Massachusetts high schools, we can expose students to valuable experience in STEM education,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “A highly-skilled workforce is critical to the continued success of the state’s vibrant clean energy industry, and this program will fuel future growth by helping students develop an important base of knowledge as they explore career opportunities.”
Since the Learn and Earn program launched in 2014, 283 high school students have participated, receiving employment during the summer as well as academic training with a curriculum focused on clean energy during the school year. MassCEC anticipates at least 60 students will participate in the 2018 Learn and Earn program, including 40 students from Gateway Cities.
MassCEC awarded $160,000 to each of the following institutions:
Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical High School: Students will spend the year retrofitting a vacant building on campus, and will use clean energy technologies to create a more energy efficient space by installing LED lighting, automatic flush toilets and auto on/off faucets, a heat pump electric hot water heater and a heat pump/AC split system.
Greater Lawrence Technical School: Students will research, develop and implement clean energy fuel sources through the design and planting of green roofs along with growing algae for transportation (biofuel). Students will learn the importance of design and technology as it relates to solving energy, social and community issues.
Norfolk County Agricultural High School: Students will take part in a new academic course during the 2018-2019 school year entitled, “LEED Prep Green Building”. Students will build clean energy educational mobile carts and concentrate on systems employing battery storage.
In addition, MassCEC awarded $120,000 to Commonwealth Corporation to provide technical assistance along with its Signal Success Curriculum to each school. The curriculum includes hands-on work readiness training designed to help students develop essential skills for future success.
According to MassCEC’s 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report, employers would benefit from educational development in clean energy and STEM topics, as nearly three quarters of employers reported hiring difficulty over the last year, with 47 percent of employers citing insufficient qualified candidates as the most significant barrier to hiring. One of the greatest challenges facing Massachusetts’ rapidly growing innovation economy is the gap between available jobs in STEM fields and qualified workers to perform them.
“Our state’s students consistently lead the nation in all areas of academic performance and achievement and they are well prepared to use the skills they have acquired,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). “Connecting them directly with the clean energy and STEM sectors offers these young people life-changing opportunities.”
“These grant awards will provide students with critical hands-on training and experience to prepare them for a career in the STEM and clean energy fields,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “I commend the Baker-Polito Administration for its continued focus on making sure Massachusetts employers have access to a highly skilled and educated workforce.”
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is dedicated to growing the state’s clean energy economy while helping to meet the Commonwealth’s clean energy, climate and economic development goals. Since its inception in 2009, MassCEC has helped clean energy companies grow, supported municipal clean energy projects, and invested in residential and commercial renewable energy installations creating a robust marketplace for innovative clean technology companies and service providers. MassCEC constructed and operates the Wind Technology Testing Center and the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton chairs MassCEC’s board of directors.