OCTAE Connection Issue 187, March 13, 2014

OCTAE Newsletter

                               March 13, 2014


White House Announces First Maker Faire

The Obama administration is trying to promote a generation of students who are “makers of things, not just consumers of things.” To encourage this, the White House has announced plans to hold its first annual Maker Faire later this year (exact date to be determined).

According to the White House, “[b]y democratizing the tools and skills necessary to design and make just about anything,” events such as the Maker Faire can inspire invention and entrepreneurial activities in more people who may then pursue careers related to science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM).

The administration plans to launch a comprehensive effort to enable students and entrepreneurs to access the tools, facilities, and expertise that can assist them to be inventive and productive. This effort will feature a variety of opportunities for individual Makers and for institutions from the corporate and public sectors, academia, and philanthropic organizations to get involved.

For example:

  • Companies might work with schools, including after-school activities, by giving some of their employee’s time to help set up “Maker-spaces,” serve as mentors, and help attract customers to Maker start-ups.
  • Communities, either through their officials or at the grass-roots level, might design or develop special districts where entrepreneurs are attracted to create jobs and innovative activities.
  • Universities could give credit for life experiences by incorporating “Maker portfolios” into their admissions process. They could also have their employees help set up “Maker-spaces” and serve as mentors on campus, in schools, or in their local communities. They might also conduct research related to the development of hardware and software tools.
  • Foundations and philanthropists could offer matching grants to communities that are involved in “Making,” especially efforts that ensure the inclusion of girls and under-represented minorities.

The Maker Faire builds on ongoing initiatives, such as that of the Defense Advanced Projects Agency, which work with the Veteran’s Administration to help establish TechShop Pittsburgh. This is a 21st-century apprenticeship program in manufacturing, working with and through startups that provides access to cutting-edge tools for veterans. It is funded by the Department of Labor, the AFL-CIO, and Carnegie Mellon University.

Creations by budding Makers, descriptions, questions, and ideas can be emailed to maker@ostp.gov/. In addition, photos and videos of creations can be posted on Twitter using the hashtag #IMadeThis.


DOL Opens Second Round of Application for Adult Reentry Grant Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced $30 million in funding for 15 grants of up to $2 million each for the second round of the Training to Work—Adult Reentry program. This program is administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration’s Reintegration of Ex-Offenders program. It is designed to assist men and women participating in state or local prison work-release programs to attain the job skills they will need upon reentry to succeed in demand-driven occupations. Any nonprofit organization that meets the requirements of the solicitation may apply. DOL seeks to fund programs with strategies that employ career pathway models drawn from the Career Pathways Initiative. That initiative focuses on combining training and education so workers gain industry-recognized credentials and go on to become employed in related fields. It is based on a jointly signed letter from the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services that endorsed the pathways approach and encouraged state, local, and tribal policymakers to use it to promote alignment among their public workforce, education, and social and human services systems.

The grants will be awarded to sets of partners to provide case management, mentoring services, educational opportunities, training for industry-recognized credentials, workforce activities, and follow-up services in high-poverty and high-crime areas. Communities with large proportions of returning individuals who typically experience higher rates of recidivism have a special focus in the program, as do applications to serve designated Promise Zones. Information about the program's first-round of grantees is available by clicking here. Applications must be received by 4 p.m., E. T. on April 18, 2014.

Open Enrollment Period for Health Insurance Marketplace Ends March 31

As we publish this newsletter, only 18 days remain in the current open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace made possible by the Affordable Care Act. Coverage information is available at the following websites:

  1. For students: http://marketplace.cms.gov/getofficialresources/other-partner-resources/what-it-means-for-students.pdf
  2. For parents and teachers:  http://marketplace.cms.gov/getofficialresources/other-partner-resources/what-it-means-for-parents-and-teachers.pdf
  3. For school communities:  http://marketplace.cms.gov/getofficialresources/other-partner-resources/what-it-means-for-school-communities.pdf