Today Congressman David Scott (GA-13) was joined by Co-Chair of the Makers Caucus, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA) in introducing H.R. 2518, the Making Advances Kinetic Education, Research, and Skills Act or The MAKERS Act.
The MAKERS Act directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award competitive grants to institutions of higher education to research or develop makerspaces throughout the United States. The legislation directs the NSF Director to prioritize applicants such as community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or other Minority Serving Institutions; as well as applicants that include partnership with a workforce development component, a high-need, low-income school district, or an independent nonprofit or academic makerspace. The MAKERS Act also gives priority to applicants who meet previous criteria but also operate within a rural community.
“I am proud to introduce the historic and bipartisan MAKERS Act along with Rep. Drew Ferguson, a member from the Georgia delegation, and Rep. Mark Takano, a leader in the national movement for makerspaces,” said Congressman Scott. “HBCUs play a pivotal role in preparing minority students for the workforce and my home-state of Georgia hosts ten HBCUs where thousands of African-American students graduate annually. All Americans, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, should have the opportunity to partake in the increasing demand for a STEM-capable workforce and makerspaces are where that demand is met. The MAKERS Act bridges the gap between HBCUs and the increased demand for STEM capable employees by providing grants to develop and hone both hard and soft skills in students.”
Makerspaces are community spaces that provide a variety of services, including access to tools, technology, and knowledge so that individuals can innovate, obtain workforce skills and begin early stage entrepreneurial business ventures. The MAKERS Act incentivizes further understanding and developments of makerspaces at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and community colleges in all communities including rural.
“Our students must be prepared to succeed in the STEM-capable careers of tomorrow. But too often the educational resources students need to enter these fields aren’t as easily accessible by underrepresented communities,” said Congressman Drew Ferguson. “We should be ensuring that students from every community and walk of life have the opportunity to succeed in the 21st century job market. That’s why I’m proud to join Congressman Scott to introduce the MAKERS Act to provide the hard and soft skills students need to enter STEM careers. The MAKERS Act is a direct investment in the future of countless students in rural communities, community colleges and historically black colleges and universities across the United States.”
"We must make investments in higher education that will provide opportunities for students of all backgrounds to succeed in the current job market,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “That’s why I am proud to team up with Rep. Scott and Rep. Ferguson to introduce the MAKERS Act. Makerspaces promote creativity and innovation by fostering the untapped talents of young people in our communities. I have seen firsthand the value of makerspaces in my district and the benefits of empowering students from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in STEM. Our economy is changing rapidly and this legislation will help ensure that diverse young people are equipped with the proper skills to compete and succeed in today’s economy."
"Citizen Schools recognizes that students who are engaged in maker-centered learning develop the mindsets and skills critical to preparing them for the jobs of the future, as innovative problem-solvers and creative entrepreneurs. Citizen Schools supports the MAKERS Act and its efforts to broaden access to maker-centered learning opportunities for all students, including those that are underrepresented and underserved. This aligns perfectly with the focus of Citizens Schools' Make For All initiative." -Stephanie Santoso, Director of Maker Initiatives, Citizen Schools
Additionally, STEM related employment opportunities have extremely low rates of underrepresented communities, including women, African-Americans, and Latino-Americans. Makerspaces address this disparity by creating community spaces for engagement in underrepresented communities in both rural and urban locations. The MAKERS Act will link students of MSIs to spaces where they can practice the skills needed to succeed in STEM related positions. As a result, the MAKERS Act will help diversify the current STEM workforce.