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NSF announces new $30M program to grow the nation’s STEM workforce

October 27, 2022
By: Emily Chesser

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced a new initiative — the Experiential Learning for Emerging and Novel Technologies (ExLENT) initiative and seeks proposals to address barriers in the STEM workforce by encouraging partnerships among industry, educational, and government organizations. The program estimates giving out 25 to 35 ExLENT awards that will last up to three years with a total budget of up to $1,000,000, with a total anticipated funding amount of $30 million. This initiative is part of a larger effort to expand the STEM workforce needed to solve significant societal challenges like climate change and clean energy and address rapidly evolving emerging technologies.

ExLENT will allow the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and the newly established Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) to support experiential learning opportunities for individuals from diverse professional and educational backgrounds to increase access to careers in emerging technology fields (e.g., advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, quantum information science, semiconductors, and microelectronics).

An introductory webinar for the ExLENT program will be hosted on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. EST. The full program guidelines and proposal submission details are available in the solicitation announcement.

The program is designed to encourage inclusive learning featuring diverse cohorts with the skills necessary to address the nation's scientific and societal challenges. Proposals for the ExLENT Initiative will follow three main tracks: pivots, beginnings, and explorations. The Pivot Track focuses on attracting individuals not currently enrolled in post-secondary education programs with non-STEM skills like time management and communication. The Beginning Track focuses on individuals with some STEM competencies, like those in associate degree programs, but are interested in a deeper knowledge of emerging technology fields. The Explorations Track focuses on individuals with limited or no STEM education and aims to provide opportunities for careers in emerging technology fields.

stem, workforce, nsf, education stem