USM and MCPSS Partnership Awarded $6 Million Grant for JROTC STEM Leadership Academy

Published 12:04 pm Saturday, November 6, 2021

The Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS), in partnership with The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and STEMWorks, LLC., received $6 million for the expansion of the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy, allowing it to scale up to 14 JROTC programs across the nation to meet the need for high quality STEM workers.

The grant will allow the MCPSS to expand the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy as a hybrid Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge — impacting over 5,000 cadets, 350 cadre, and 275 STEM teachers. STEM activities during the Academies focus on supporting major industries: maritime, advanced manufacturing, and aviation.

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USM’s Center for STEM Education will lead in this initiative by providing STEM education research and evaluating the effectiveness of the JROTC program replication.

“We are looking forward to measuring, capturing, and analyzing the STEM Academy replication process in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Savannah and across the U.S.,” said Dr. Julie Cwikla, Director of the Center for STEM Education. “National recognition of this well-designed STEM workforce initiative and curriculum is simply stellar. I’m excited for JROTC cadets, cadre, and STEM teachers across the country to benefit from what we started here,” she added.

The Mobile JROTC STEM Leadership Academy is primed for replication and scale to meet the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense’s need for high quality STEM interventions that have potential to increase the STEM pipeline at all entry points.

“We are very excited to see the model developed here in Mobile County receive national recognition from the Department of Defense,” said Lt. Col. Robert Barrow, MCPSS Director of Army Instruction. “More importantly is the impact replicating this model will have for thousands of cadets across America…my main goal from the start of this effort has been to demonstrate to high school students that they have the potential to work in STEM related career fields and to show them a pathway toward achieving that objective,” he added.

“JROTC teaches cadets the essential skill sets needed by today’s business and industry partners. Our STEM Leadership Academy gives them a pathway that can lead to success…I am very proud of having been a part of this team from the beginning.”

To implement a unique STEM and workforce development intervention, this partnership will focus on: scaling the STEM Academy to 14 additional sites; producing a live and virtual professional development and coaching model; and developing local and regional human capacity at new partner locations and web-based resources to enable future scaling.

The MCPSS is the only K-12 system among the 15 awardees from the National Defense Education Program.

The JROTC STEM Leadership Academy is an established hybrid Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge (JCLC) summer residential STEM workforce development intervention that combines STEM and workforce experiences with U.S. Army required JROTC summer leadership camps in the Mobile County Public School System, Mobile, Ala.