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West Ky. Schools To Benefit From $9.5M Grant Supporting STEM Education

Matt Markgraf
Congressman James Comer said the West Kentucky GEAR UP grant will "make the difference" for bringing in and filling high-wage jobs.

A $9.5 million federal grant project in west Kentucky aims to better prepare students to enter the workforce in computer science and other STEM-related fields.

Todd Warren is the Director for Innovations in Education at the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative. He said in a press conference Wednesday in Murray the project called ‘West Kentucky GEAR UP’ supports 20 participating schools across nine counties.

The project’s goal is to create a college and career pathway culture to increase the number of students prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education and obtain industry certification.

“Four full-time STEM initiative consultants will be hired to work with teachers and staff as rigorous standards are implemented throughout West Kentucky GEAR UP schools. Six full-time college readiness coaches will be hired to work with students, their families and the community in preparation for post-secondary education," Warren said.

Credit Matt Markgraf / WKMS
Todd Warren wrote the grant and reads some of the details at a press conference in Murray, Ky. on Wednesday.

Warren said the seven-year project places an emphasis on minority, low-income, English learner and special needs students.

Congressman James Comer said the grant will “make the difference” for bringing in and filling high-wage jobs. He said partnerships with educational cooperatives are “imperative” - as well as the relationship with Murray State University.

"Public education is the number one function for the state. It's a major function for the federal government. It takes money to educate our children. And I'm going to do everything I can to help create an environment where you have adequate funding," Comer said.

The project is expected to begin in January following a hiring phase, which will employ 12 full-time positions.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education.

Target Schools:

  • Ballard County Middle/High Schools
  • Carlisle County Middle/High Schools
  • Crittenden County Middle/High Schools
  • Fulton County Middle/High Schools
  • Fulton Independent Middle/High Schools
  • Hickman County Middle/High Schools
  • Livingston County Middle/High Schools
  • Mayfield Independent Middle/High Schools
  • McLean County Middle/High Schools
  • Paducah Independent Middle/Paducah Tilghman High Schools
Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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