The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities, a partnership between Florida International University, University of Central Florida, and University of South Florida was awarded a $1.5 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support the Florida Metropolitan STEM Continuum: From College to Career program. The Florida Consortium will implement Network Improvement Communities (NICs), an action-oriented, collective impact approach to support students from college through careers.

Throughout the next 18 months, faculty from FIU, UCF, USF, educators from regional community colleges, and business leaders will work together to minimize barriers to persisting in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study.

Together, they will work to align expectations and support students in the transitions from community college or four-year institutions and on to higher wage careers in the Sunshine State. Through analysis of labor market trends, in coordination with review of college course offerings and career certifications, NICs will work to improve career pathways for STEM students in Florida.

“The grant will help us to foster sustained partnership across institutions and industry that will help our state for years to come,” said Michael Preston, Executive Director of the Florida Consortium. Infusing the pipeline with a higher number of career-ready STEM graduates is critical in Florida and across the nation. According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, overall job growth through 2021 will be about 12 percent. Meanwhile data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity show that STEM job growth is projected to double. Nationally, the Department of Commerce reports that STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations. This is a win for students and the communities they live in.

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