High schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods are being offered the chance to compete for an innovative STEM/Early College Pilot Program grant announced Sept. 20 by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).

This grant opportunity will provide up to three selected “comprehensive” high schools – traditional high schools that offer career and technical education programs – with financial support and program development expertise to develop a P-TECH 9-14 model, according to the memo released last week by the NJDOE.

The grant aims to increase students’ skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The P-Tech model was developed in partnership with IBM and the City University of New York. Students will attain both a secondary and postsecondary degree while gaining valuable workplace employability skills. The grant period will start on Dec.1, 2018, and continue through June 30, 2020.

Eligible schools must meet the following criteria:

• District high school student enrollment for grades 9-12 for the 2018-19 school year with a minimum enrollment of 400 students.

• At least 50 percent of students in the high school must be eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch.

• The comprehensive high school must be located within 20 miles of an industry partner and a postsecondary or institution of higher education partner.

The STEM Dual Enrollment and Early College High School Pilot Program grant application is available on the NJDOE’s Office of Career Readiness webpage. Completed applications are due by 4 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2018.