The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced nearly $20 million in PAsmart Advancing Grants to expand access to computer science and science, technology, engineering, and math education for learners across the commonwealth. Locally, Albright College was awarded $499,400 for their “Esports Unleashed: The Arena of Futurity” program.
In January, Albright announced the new esports venue will make professional grade gaming equipment available to community members — from casual gamers and those new to the esports scene, to high school teams and esports tournament organizers. MPG Impact Development will partner with Albright College to design and develop the property.
In addition to classrooms and private rooms for Albright College’s esports team, the new venue will serve as a fully functioning Nerd Street Localhost. Nerd Street Localhosts provide the highest quality gaming equipment and peripherals, including PCs, consoles, keyboards, headphones and more. The Albright College esports hub will also boast a stage for high intensity competitions and a production studio for content creation.
“PAsmart prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow, no matter where they live in the commonwealth or where they plan to live in the future,” said Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty. “Equitable access to STEM and computer science programs gives students from all walks of life the skills they need to obtain meaningful, family-sustaining careers, and these grants will provide thousands more learners the opportunity to build on their skillset, grow, and achieve.”
Projects funded by the PAsmart Advancing Grants range from the development of a K-12 data science pathway, to a project to increase the number of K-8 educators with computer science endorsements in northeastern PA, to engineering and digital fabrication experiences for elementary students, to a dedicated computer science-focused high school in Philadelphia.
Over the past eight years, $116 million has been invested in STEM education. PDE has awarded 495 PAsmart grants to expand computer science and STEM education and teacher training at more than 765 schools across the commonwealth since the 2018-19 school year.
The Center for Workforce Information and Analysis at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has projected that by 2028, there will be about 157,000 more occupations in Pennsylvania that require mathematics knowledge (representing 65% of all employment in the commonwealth), and about 125,000 more occupations that require knowledge in computers and electronics (representing 54% of all employment).