2023 Ideas Challenge Entry
To directly address the gender, social, and racial gaps in STEM education and careers, Oregon Representative Janelle Bynum advocated for two new grant programs focused on leveraging federal CHIPS funding to build a diverse workforce for the future. The first grant ($1.2 million) went to Portland non-profit Self Enhancement Inc. to build a pipeline of diverse students who will be ready to gain employment in Oregon’s expanding semiconductor industry. The second grant ($2 million) went to Building Blocks 2 Success, which will create a semiconductor workforce pipeline by offering summer programming and college preparation for students intending to major in STEM fields at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).
These grants, in addition to over $200 million from the Oregon CHIPS act, go above and beyond what other states are doing and will work to ensure that the lucrative semiconductor careers of the future are more equitably distributed and incorporate individuals who are often left out of economic development. Especially considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision on affirmative action, investing in students who will attend HBCUs is more important than ever to address the STEM education and career gap.
In the short term, Oregon will evaluate the success of these investments by seeing how much federal CHIPS funding comes to our state. This effort will help create a state economy hospitable for future generations to succeed and will help new cohorts of STEM professionals attain the economic and social securities that will bring diverse families and communities to new levels of prosperity and opportunity.