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NextFlex Receives $5M HHS Grant to Focus on Diversity in STEM

By Carly Colvin, Workforce Development Coordinator, NextFlex

NextFlex was pleased to recently be awarded $5M by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support a five-year project in the Northern Capital Region in partnership with the local nonprofit Capital Youth Empowerment Program (CYEP). This unique initiative focuses on underserved communities in the Northern Virginia region by addressing both skill development and, just as importantly, the support services that make participation possible.

CYEP programming is designed to provide wraparound services to ensure that people have the support and resources (transportation, childcare, etc.) they need to be able to take advantage of education and training opportunities. The capstone element consists of the exposure, mentorship, and skills training designed to help participants acquire the skills and experience necessary to become competitive hires in the advanced manufacturing sector. In a unique combination of support services provided through CYEP, integrated with NextFlex’s flagship STEM sector outreach program, FlexFactor®, participants from vulnerable populations can prepare for STEM sector employment.

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Parents and their children celebrating graduation from a CYEP Parenting class aimed at guiding families toward education opportunities that can improve economic sustainability for families in Alexandria, VA, in November 2019. Photo Credit: CYEP

 

“As a Manufacturing Innovation Institute, we are focused on recruiting the best and brightest minds into our ranks to innovate and develop next generation technologies. We recognize the importance of accessing the diverse and motivated pool of talent our country has to offer, ensuring that all individuals with the potential to contribute to this field have the opportunity to do so,” said Emily McGrath, Director of Workforce Development at NextFlex.

Broad STEM sector participation is a critical focus for the Department of Defense. The creation of a deep and diverse talent pool that has aptitude for innovation and technical agility is directly tied to our global economic competitiveness and national security. In addition to supporting important economic and national security goals, STEM sector employment provides individuals one of the most important pathways to the middle class, offering high wage jobs with high growth potential.

“Strategic, intentional investments in STEM for underserved and low-income youth are essential to creating diverse and healthy economic ecosystems and providing critical economic opportunity for struggling communities.  Social, educational and technical skill development are essential to the sustainable, inclusive growth that benefits our entire nation,” said Erick King, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CYEP.

Through this partnership, NextFlex and CYEP will provide opportunities to members of underserved communities in the northern Virginia region, creating a pipeline of diverse talent for the growing regional STEM sector, and will help mobilize broader participation in the domestic STEM economy.

Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant: #90ZJ0058. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

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