The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has awarded Bloomington-based Regional Opportunity Initiatives an $85,000 grant from its STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund. Vice President Michi McClaine says ROI will use the funding to enhance its STEM Fellows program to include middle school teachers.

ROI plans to extend the program to focus on middle school STEM in the fall of 2022. Educators will receive STEM training and professional development required for license endorsements in middle school science, computer science or technology education. 

The year-long STEM fellows professional development program is designed to help educators develop skills to become peer leaders and to increase confidence in students in the areas of STEM. ROI’s STEM Fellows program began in 2017 and has included five cohorts for a total of 97 K-6 teachers working in 23 of 27 districts across the 11-county Indiana Uplands region. 

“The Indiana Uplands is fortunate to have an abundance of career opportunities in STEM fields. But we know that early interventions in STEM learning are crucial to getting students interested and keeping them engaged in STEM through middle school and beyond. ROI is grateful to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for this opportunity to grow and enhance the STEM Fellows program. Not only will it benefit educators, students, and school districts, the STEM Fellows program is creating a pipeline of competitive STEM talent that will enable our industry sectors and our region to prosper long into the future,” said McClaine.

ROI is one of 16 organizations and colleges awarded funding to recruit, prepare, place and retain STEM educators in high-need districts.