U. of Missouri boosts STEM for rural schools with $22.4M in grants

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The University of Missouri has received $22.4 million to help rural schools throughout Missouri and Kansas build their science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula.

About one in four U.S. students are educated in rural schools, and, according to the American Enterprise Institute, schools in rural America are often neglected and in need of additional resources. MU anticipates the grants will help expand STEM education to more than 500 educators and nearly 30,000 students in high-need schools in the next five years.

The awards will support the University of Missouri College of Education’s Enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies, or eMINTS, National Center, a nonprofit started by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Missouri Department of Higher Education, and the University of Missouri in 1999 to help schools and teachers meet the demands of digital age teaching and learning.

“Teachers and students throughout Missouri’s 114 counties depend on the MU College of Education’s outreach programs to support teachers and enhance the educational process,” said MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright in a blog post. “These grants will help the college continue to provide an affordable, excellent education to students throughout Missouri, especially in rural communities where resources like these can change lives.”

The U.S. Department of Education awarded the MU college of Education two grants — a 14.6 million Supporting Effective Educator Development grant, the largest in the college’s history; and a $4 million Education Innovation and Research Award. The audio-visual equipment supply company Kansas City Audio-Visual matched nearly $4 million of the funds.

The U.S. Department of Education awards these grants to organizations nearly every year. In 2018, there were 14 recipients of the Supporting Effective Educator Development grant, many of which will use the funds for professional development in high-need schools, according to the grant’s info page. 

The 2018 Education Innovation and Research Award was given to 18 organizations, again with many recipients using finds to benefit high-need students and schools. 

The grants support MU’s goal to double research funding in the next five years, and the college of education’s goal of expanding and strengthening STEM education and other learning technologies in rural schools, according to MU’s announcement of the grants.

“This funding facilitates an incredible collaboration among researchers and practitioners in learning technologies, problem-based learning, social-emotional learning and STEM education to enhance teaching and learning environments in rural communities,” said Kathryn Chval, dean of UM’s College of Education. “We are simply thrilled to lead this effort to impact multiple disciplines and communities.”