white house

Community Colleges Announce Free Tuition Plans; TN Promise Remains Under Microscope in State, Nation

Since the establishment of the Tennessee Promise in 2014, the first statewide free community college effort, community college systems and states are outlining their own strategies to make a two-year education free for students in their region in attempt to create an educated, qualified workforce that addresses the needs of industry and promotes economic prosperity. While it may remain too early to judge the benefits and the costs of these programs – lawmakers and educational professionals remain divided on the issue. 

White House Announces $175M for American Apprenticeship Grants

In a fact sheet released ahead of President Obama’s visit to Macomb Community College in Warren, MI, this week the Obama administration announced new steps to expand apprenticeships and continue other efforts around workforce development and free community college. Notable initiatives announced include: $175 million grants to provide apprenticeship opportunities to 34,000 individuals; the launch of Heads Up America, an independent campaign to raise awareness about the importance of community colleges; and, the creation of the College Promise Advisory Board to further the administration’s efforts to make two years of community college free to responsible students.

White House Issues Presidential Innovation Fellows Executive Order, Hosts Demo Day

This week, President Obama issued an executive order in an attempt to make the Presidential Innovation Fellows program a permanent part of the federal government. Administered as a partnership between the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and the General Services Administration, the Presidential Innovation Fellows program is a 12-month, competitive initiative that pairs technologists and entrepreneurs with government agencies to collaborate on difficult problems and build a culture of innovation within the government. Since launching in 2012, nearly 100 innovators have been recruited into the program, working in projects around areas such as government IT, renewable energy affordability and veteran employment.

White House Launches Decade-Long Supercomputing Initiative to Meet Big Data Challenges

On Wednesday, President Obama launched a new National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) by executive order. The multi-agency effort will seek partnerships with academia and industry to build high-performance computing systems capable of exascale processing and more than 10 times as fast as existing supercomputers. NSCI will support the design of systems that are not only fast, but also capable of manipulating the large and dynamic datasets typically characterized as "big data." Partner agencies will invest in efforts to make exascale processing less energy-intensive, more available and simpler to use. Read the announcement...

White House Highlights Incentives to Address Challenges, Seeks New Commitments

Challenge.gov, an online portal that facilitates public-sector prize competitions, is celebrating its fifth anniversary later this year. Numerous federal agencies have used prize competitions to spur innovation around areas ranging from water desalination to lung cancer, according to a White House blog post. Those agencies have found that this incentive-laden approach increases cost-effectiveness, encourages risk-taking, and reaches participants beyond a typical scope.

White House Announces Demo Days Event to Support Inclusive Entrepreneurship

The White House announced plans to host its first ever Demo Day, a new initiative to empower a variety of entrepreneurs from around the country to launch and scale innovative companies. Unlike a private-sector demo day, where investors watch and react to the pitches of entrepreneurs, the White House Demo Day, to be held this summer, will highlight success stories from entrepreneurs across the country, with an emphasis on best practices for inclusive entrepreneurship. Minority entrepreneurs are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment in the United States, growing four times faster than their non-minority-owned counterparts between 1997 and 2007, according to a blog post to publicize the event written by Jeff Zients, the Director of the National Economic Council, and Megan Smith, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Although details have yet to be announced, the White House Demo Day will also emphasize the following four themes as part of the event: growing local innovation economies; training startup-ready students; expanding on-ramps to entrepreneurship; connecting diverse talent to capital; and, local open gatherings.  Read more…

MEP Launches Competitions for 12 MEP Centers; WH Announces Supply Chain Initiative

The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) issued a Federal Funding Opportunity for nonprofit organizations to operate state MEP centers in 12 states – Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The objective of the MEP Center program is to provide business and technical services to small- and medium-sized manufacturers within the state of operation. MEP will commit nearly $32 million annually for five years across the 12 states – an expected total of $158 million matched at least dollar-for-dollar by $158 million or more of non-federal funding. A public webinar for applications will be conducted on Monday, March 30th, at 2:00 pm ET. Applications are due June 1. Read the announcement…

Ninth U.S. Manufacturing Institute To Focus on Defense Textile Tech

This week, the White House released details on its ninth planned institute within the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The Department of Defense will award $75 million for a new manufacturing hub focused on Revolutionary Fibers and Textiles. Regional manufacturers, universities and nonprofits will soon be invited to compete for the funds, which require a 1:1 cost share. The institute will be the sixth funded through the Defense Department. Three others have received support through the Department of Energy. Read details...

White House Announces TechHire Initiative, $100M Competition for Workforce Training

This week, the Obama administration launched TechHire, a new, multi-sector initiative that seeks to educate workers through universities, community colleges, high-quality online courses, and other nontraditional approaches like “coding bootcamps,” with many programs not requiring a four-year degree. To support the program, the administration and the Department of Labor are creating a $100 million H-1B grant competition that funds innovative approaches to training and employing low-skilled individuals with training barriers, such as those with child care responsibilities, disabilities, limited English proficiency, among others.  More than twenty communities throughout the country have committed to using data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring, expand models for training that prepare students in a faster timeframe, and build local strategies and partnerships to better connect people to jobs as part of the TechHire initiative.

President’s Budget Bets on STEM Education, Manufacturing to Boost American Middle Class

On Monday, President Obama released his $4 trillion budget request for FY16. His proposal is again unlikely to find support in Congress, but serves as a useful guide to the administration’s priorities and a source of new ideas. This year’s budget document is being presented as a policy pathway to rebuilding middle class opportunities, embracing “Middle Class Economics for the 21st Century.” In embracing this agenda, the administration has included several new programs and significant spending increases for STEM education, manufacturing and R&D, though the proposed funding levels for most offices appear similar to those included in the administration’s past budget requests.


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