The Nebraska Department of Economic Development recently announced new recipients of the Developing Youth Talent Initiative Grant. The DYTI grant aims to build partnerships between the private sector and Nebraska public schools in order to educate seventh and eighth grade students about careers in manufacturing, information technology, and other STEM fields.
“Our Developing Youth Talent Initiative is introducing the next generation of students to career fields where great-paying opportunities continue to grow,” commented Governor Pete Ricketts. “The program helps connect kids with those opportunities, positioning Nebraska to retain more of the great people who have helped to build the Good Life into the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family.”
Among the grant recipients is Orthman Manufacturing of Lexington, Nebraska. Orthman received a $125,000 grant which they intend put to use by outfitting mobile trailer “makerspaces” with manufacturing-related technologies and equipment. School districts in a 10-county area will be able to use these makerspaces to educate students on industry-related concepts. Local business professionals will be able to work alongside students and build mentoring relationships with them. They hope to be able to educate at least 3,300 students in central Nebraska through this project.
Another recipient, Reinke Manufacturing of Deshler, Nebraska plans to reach as many as 850 students through its Exposing Kids to Career Opportunities (ECKO) program with the $22,000 in grant money they received from DYTI. The ECKO program plans to feature an engaging manufacturing and STEM career curriculum bolstered by a mobile STEM trailer that will serve as a hands-on laboratory. Ten schools in three southeast Nebraska counties will benefit from this project.
DED Director Dave Rippe commented on the importance of career education for the economic future of Nebraska: “Career choice is one of the most important decisions a young adult will face,” said Rippe. “We want to ensure that Nebraska youth who have not yet reached that stage will approach it with an awareness of the extremely rewarding opportunities awaiting them in the manufacturing and IT fields. In doing so, we’re also supporting our overall mission to ensure Nebraska companies are equipped with the skilled workforce they need to succeed and thrive.”