Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Talent Challenge Program


EDAs Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship is committed to furthering technology-based economic development initiatives that accelerate high-quality job growth, create more economic opportunities, and support the future of the next generation of industry-leading companies. To advance these goals, EDA awards grants through the Build to Scale Program to develop and support regional innovation initiatives that help to build regional economies through scalable, technology-driven startups as described in the EDA administered portions of Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980 (15 U.S.C. 3720 3723) (Stevenson-Wydler). As these regional innovation initiatives scale across the country, America has benefited from growth in jobs requiring sophisticated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills. High-skilled human capital is proving essential to the growth and expansion of these regional technological ecosystems; however, U.S. employers have struggled to fill jobs in these fields, and younger or leaner firms, like many innovative startups, are especially hard hit by this challenge. An increasing number of jobs that require STEM skills do not require a bachelors degree, and other education and training pathways such as apprenticeships, fellowships, and other work-based learning models are becoming instrumental in meeting the urgent demand for a STEM-capable workforce. To meet these demands, Section 28 of Stevenson-Wydler (15 U.S.C. 3723), authorizes EDA to carry out a grant program to identify and develop strategies that support the growth of STEM talent development programs, and to implement those programs where plans and strategies exist.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Economic Development Administration, Department of Commerce
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants
Program Accomplishments
Not applicable.
EDA is authorized to carry out a grant program to identify and develop strategies that support the growth of STEM talent development programs, and to implement those programs where plans and strategies exist., Title Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980, Section 28, 15 U.S.C. 3723
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
Applicant Eligibility
Eligible applications for and eligible recipients of EDA investment assistance under this NOFO include: o a State; o an Indian tribe; o a city or other political subdivision of a State; o an entity that is-- o a nonprofit organization; o an institution of higher education; o a public-private partnership; o a science or research park; o a Federal laboratory; o an economic development organization or similar entity; and that has an application supported by a State, a political subdivision of a State, or a native organization; or o a consortium of any of the above-mentioned eligible applicants. EDA is not authorized to provide assistance to individuals under this NOFO, and such requests will not be considered for funding. EDA is not authorized to provide grants or cooperative agreements under its Public Works or EAA programs to individuals or to for-profit entities. Requests from such entities will not be considered for funding. Pursuant to Section 3 of PWEDA (42 U.S.C. ? 3122) and 13 C.F.R. ? 300.3, eligible applicants for EDA financial assistance under the Public Works and EAA programs include a(n): (i) District Organization of an EDA-designated Economic Development District; (ii) Indian Tribe or a consortium of Indian Tribes; (iii) State, county, city, or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions; (iv) institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education; or (v) public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.
Beneficiary Eligibility
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is required. This program is eligible for coverage under E.O. 12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.
Application Procedure
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.
Award Procedure
Anticipated awards typically will have a period of performance of approximately 18 to 24 months with an estimated start date about 45 days after the date on which EDA makes the award.
Contact the headquarters or regional location, as appropriate for application deadlines
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
From 60 to 90 days.
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
1. Evaluation Criteria To apply for an award under this announcement, an eligible applicant must submit a complete application to EDA in accordance with Section D. of this NOFO. Applications that do not meet all of the requirements or that exceed the page limitations set forth in Section D.2.b. of this announcement may be considered non responsive and may not be considered for review. Applications will be evaluated against the following six equally-weighted criteria by awarding between 0 and 10 points under each criterion. o Project Support and Connectivity: The extent to which the project is supported by and connected to regional innovation leaders such as technology centers, business accelerators, community colleges, as well as STEM industry leaders such as technology startups, advanced manufacturers, and life science businesses, and other similar entities; as well as local leadership and institutions, such as relevant governmental departments, councils of governments, planning entities, or other similar entities. o Engagement and Diversity: The extent to which the project will encourage and solicit participation from an inclusive group of regional stakeholders that might benefit from participation including newly formed entities, rival existing participants, and underrepresented or unconnected populations and organizations across socioeconomic and geographic categories. o Economic and Innovation Impacts: The extent to which the project stimulates innovation, increases regional innovation capacity, encourages experimentation with STEM talent development strategies and apprenticeship-based programs, and expands regional workforce capacity to support high-growth entrepreneurial ventures, industries of the future, and other innovation-driven businesses that have a high likelihood of accelerating economic competitiveness and job creation in their respective regions and in the United States. o Assets and Infrastructure: Whether the project has access to, will leverage, and/or will contribute to a regional economy's competitive strengths, assets and infrastructure (such as technology infrastructure, innovation pipelines, and sources of early-stage capital). o Project Sustainability and Adaptability: The extent to which the project is likely to be able to sustain activities once grant funds are expended, including the likelihood of future financial or programmatic support from non-Federal sources. o Project Feasibility: The extent to which the application organization(s) demonstrates the ability to execute the proposed project successfully, including if the proposed project's budget and narrative reasonably and realistically correspond to the costs and activities necessary for its successful execution. 2. Review and Selection Process Throughout the review and selection process, EDA reserves the right to seek clarification from applicants whose applications are being reviewed. EDA may ask applicants to clarify application materials, objectives, and scope of work, or modify budgets or other specifics necessary to comply with Federal requirements. a. Review for Eligibility and Completeness (Technical Review) EDA staff will initially conduct an eligibility and technical completeness review (the "Technical Review") of all applications received to assess whether the application meets the requirements of D.2. Applications received from ineligible entities will not be considered for funding. Additionally, applications that do not contain all forms and required documentation listed in Section D.2. of this NOFO may be deemed non responsive and excluded from further consideration. EDA expects all applicants to complete and include all required forms and documentation. However, EDA, in its sole discretion, may determine that an omission is a non-substantive technical deficiency if it can easily and quickly be rectified and therefore may continue its consideration of the application despite the deficiency. b. Merit Review Merit Reviewers will evaluate the applications against the evaluation criteria enumerated in Section E of this NOFO. Each application will be reviewed by at least three Merit Reviewers. Merit reviewers may include but are not limited to, DOC and EDA personnel, and other Federal and non-Federal subject matter experts. EDA, in its sole discretion, may use a statistical technique to normalize and aggregate Merit Reviewers' quantitative evaluations (i.e., scores) and may consider qualitative Merit Reviewer evaluation information. For each competition, the most highly ranked applications will be recommended to the Grants Officer as the applications that merit consideration for EDA funding. c. Due Diligence If an application is selected, the applicant still may have to complete certain due diligence requirements. EDA may request that the applicant submit additional documents and information to allow EDA to fully evaluate compliance with applicable rules and regulations. If the applicant provides the requested information and supporting documentation in a timely fashion and EDA determines that the project is fully compliant with applicable rules and regulations, the application will be forwarded to the Grants Officer for a final decision and award approval. Applicants that do not provide the additional information and supporting documentation in a timely fashion or that are deemed not to be in compliance with applicable rules and regulations will receive notification that their application was not successful. d. Grants Officer's Decision The most highly ranked applications will be forwarded to the Grants Officer under this announcement, which will be EDA's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs (DAS/RA) or the DAS/RA's delegate. The Grants Officer has been delegated the authority to make the final decision on whether to fund an application and may select a project for funding that differs from the most highly ranked applications based on any of the following Selection Factors or use these Selection Factors to break a tie for applications that are otherwise considered substantially equal in merit: 1. the extent to which the application meets the overall objectives of Section 28 of the Stevenson Wydler Technology Innovation Act of 1980; 2. the ability of a project to start quickly, realistically achieve project goals, and catalyze additional resources; 3. the financial or management capability of the applicant; 4. the applicant's performance under previous Federal financial assistance awards, including whether the awardee submitted required performance reports and data; 5. the extent to which the application leverages complementary public or private sector programs or policies, including but not limited to those operated or managed by the Federal Government; 6. the availability of program funding; 7. the extent to which any technical deficiencies or any budgetary or legal issues in the application may impact an applicant's ability to executive the project or achieve the desired impacts; or 8. the extent to which the project supports EDA's goals of geographic balance in distribution of program funds (including but not limited to diversity of urban and rural states), project types and award activities and the overall portfolio. The final decision of the Grants Officer must be consistent with this NOFO and applicable law. Should the Grants Officer make a selection that differs from the review committee's recommendation, the Grants Officer will document the rationale for the decision in writing. There is no appeal process for denied applications.
How may assistance be used?
Proposed projects may aim for some or all of the following outputs and outcomes or others, as appropriate, considering each proposed project’s regional, sectoral, and economic contexts. A. STEM Work-Based Learning and Training Projects should focus on an interdisciplinary approach and utilize training models that provide workers with the experiences and skills they will need to succeed on-the-job and in real-world applications. These may include, but are not limited to, innovative industry-driven apprenticeships, fellowships, internships, and other cooperative employer-educator partnerships, and are not limited to existing industry definitions – experimentation and innovation is encouraged. While important to the development of a future workforce, general education programs such as those found in K-12 curriculums are not encouraged, unless part of a broader strategy in a STEM readiness program. B. Increase Regional Innovation Capacity Projects should focus on connecting regional innovation stakeholders and employers with the workforce and talent development leaders of the region, or training providers who are readying tomorrow’s workforce. Programs should emphasize enabling the region’s fast-paced technology startups and innovative companies to hire locally and decrease their costs and lead time to filling positions, allowing them to grow their teams and scale their businesses faster. Traditional workforce development programs may not have the expertise or networks to accomplish this – organizations that normally do not identify as workforce development organizations, but are driving regional innovation through worker training are encouraged to apply. These may include, but are not limited to eligible applicants that are business accelerators and incubators, digital economy training organizations, and venture development organizations. Please see Section C (p. 4) of this NOFO for eligibility information regarding the STEM Talent Challenge. C. Increase Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in STEM Projects should focus on enabling all members of a community to have equitable access to and participate in the innovation economy. Talent development programs should prioritize forging new and reinforcing existing relationships among an inclusive group of regional stakeholders, especially those who are underrepresented or historically underserved, including across socioeconomic and geographic categories. D. Build Computational Expertise for the Digital Economy Digital tools and the internet have profoundly transformed the economy and our approach to learning. The COVID-19 global pandemic has accelerated these trends, and as such, a talent pool with computational literacy is imperative to remain globally competitive. In an increasingly virtual and remote world, these skills are essential to diversify economies and to adapt to rapidly transforming places of work and education. Examples of this could involve digital and cloud platforms to increase collaboration, teaching and training, customizable individual instruction in computer science or adjacent fields, as well as virtual reality or simulation-based training activities.
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Performance Reports: EDA reviews progress and financial reports for compliance with all award terms and conditions, as well as EDA regulations. EDA reserves the right to conduct site visits on an as-needed basis.
EDA may require that recipients provide EDA additional data on actual impact of the funded investment, pursuant to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), up to nine years after award. In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503 The applicant is reminded that EDA or the Department of Commerce's Office of Inspector General also may conduct an audit of an award at any time.
All financial and programmatic records, supporting documents, statistical reports, and other records of recipients or sub-recipients are required to be maintained by the terms of the grant agreement.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching is mandatory. 50%. Applicants must provide matching non-Federal Share equal to at least 50 percent of the total project cost; i.e., applicants must match each dollar requested with at least one dollar of applicant match.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Anticipated awards typically will have a period of performance of approximately 18 to 24 months with an estimated start date about 45 days after the date on which EDA makes the award. If opting for $50,000 planning and development activities, this work must be completed within the first six months of the award. The application is expected to be released in August 2022. Subject to the availability of funding, EDA expects to notify applicants of its decision in writing approximately 90 – 120 days after the Application Deadline. EDA expects that all projects will proceed efficiently and expeditiously, and EDA encourages applicants to clearly document how quickly the applicant will be able to start and complete the proposed work. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: Funds are disbursed on a reimbursement basis. Reimbursement
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
You may contact the EDA Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship: o Email: o Phone: (202) 482-8001
Headquarters Office
Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20230 US
Phone: 2024828001
Website Address
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Cooperative Agreements) FY 22$2,000,000.00; FY 23 est $2,500,000.00; FY 24 est $7,500,000.00; FY 21$2,000,000.00; FY 20$2,000,000.00; FY 19$0.00; -
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
The STEM Talent Challenge is designed to help communities with two activities - planning and development, and program implementation. A total of $2 million has been appropriated for this program and EDA invites applications that maximize impacts across both activities within this program, though planning and development activities are optional. Applicants may not request in excess of $300,000 over an 18 to 24-month period of performance, of which no more than $50,000 may support planning and development activities if such support is needed.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Not applicable.


Federal Grants Resources