The West Virginia Department of Arts Culture and History (WVDACH) is accepting applications for STEAM Power WV grants, a program that last year served more than 15,000 students across the state.

The innovative grant program encourages schools and arts organizations to integrate arts education with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula. Applications must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 4.

Approximately $175,000 will be awarded from funding received through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

“One of our priorities is to support arts education and programming that provides arts opportunities for West Virginia youth,” WVDACH Curator Randall Reid-Smith said. “We are excited to continue our partnership with Benedum for this STEAM initiative and to provide funding for programs that will reach students around the state.”

According to a press release, STEAM Power WV is administered by the State Arts Office of the WVDACH. Mini-grant awards of up to $7,500 are available for public and private preschool through high school programs, school systems, nonprofit arts organizations and community nonprofits with arts-related missions.

Each project requires a cash match of at least one-third the requested amount, and matching funds may be contributed by county school systems, individual schools, community foundations, government agencies, private businesses and individuals.

“Mini grants like these are incredibly valuable in tapping the creativity of the frontline classroom teacher and teaching artist,” Jim Denova, Benedum Foundation vice president said. “The Department of Arts, Culture and History does a great job of engaging local arts organizations and schools. This venture is not a ‘top-down’ effort but one that reaches out to grassroots — to the teachers and artists whose creativity we want to encourage.”

Denova said the foundation’s experience has been that STEAM grants are a great way to test new ideas and establish innovative partnerships that can integrate arts and technology into the formal learning environment.

The WVDACH plans to fund at least 25 new STEAM projects taking place between now and June 2020. New project proposals must enhance school and/or after-school curricula through cross-disciplinary partnerships that include teachers, teaching artists, STEM educators and other professionals.

STEAM projects should include well-integrated arts and STEM learning objectives, encouraging innovation, teamwork, creativity, problem solving and other aptitudes that are critical to 21st century college and career readiness.

Educators in the fields of math, science, technology and engineering are encouraged to apply as are those involved in performance and visual arts, language arts and media. Collaborative projects involving arts and community organizations, as well as partnerships involving higher education organizations, are encouraged and welcome.

"Since the creation of the STEAM Power WV program in 2015, the WVDACH has awarded $486,112 in support of 101 projects serving students in at least 35 West Virginia counties," the release stated. "Funding for STEAM Power WV is provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, with additional support from the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences and the Governor’s STEM Initiative."

STEAM Power WV guidelines and applications are available at the department’s website wvculture.org/arts/STEAM.

For more information, contact Jim Wolfe, arts in education coordinator for the department, at james.d.wolfe@wv.gov or 304-558-0240, or Paul Neil, arts office secretary, at Paul.R.Neil@wv.gov.

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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