STEM education in several area schools will benefit next school year from funding that is being dispersed throughout the tri-state region.

Chevron, EQT and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announced the award of $259,200 in Innovation Grants to 43 classrooms across southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio to support innovative educational programs that target the region’s workforce skills gap.

The grants seek to encourage school districts located in rural communities to develop engaging programs and curricula that couple innovation and design with science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics education.

“We’re committed to supporting the communities where we’re privileged to operate, and we hope these grants help spark an interest and prepare students with the science and math skills critical to in-demand energy and advanced manufacturing careers,” said Trip Oliver, policy, government and public affairs manager at Chevron Appalachia.

In Pennsylvania, the grants will fund 20 projects in 13 school districts for initiatives aimed at topics including digital design, girls in STEAM, coding, robotics and hydroponics in grades K-12.

Nearly one-quarter of the funding — or about $59,700 — is earmarked for area schools in Fayette, Greene and Washington counties.

“Small grants like these are incredibly valuable in tapping the creativity of frontline teachers working with community partners,” said James Denova, vice president of the Benedum Foundation.

The Innovation Grant program is in its third year.

Chevron and the Benedum Foundation funded the Innovation Grants as part of the Appalachia Partnership Initiative, a multi-year partnership established with an initial $20 million commitment from Chevron that seeks to strengthen economic and education environments by supporting long-term STEM and technical training programs. This year, EQT joined the fray to provide additional support.

“We strive to identify opportunities that impact the communities we serve in meaningful ways,” said Ellen Rossi, EQT Foundation manager. “Education is a core focus of the EQT Foundation and we’re proud to partner with Chevron on this truly innovative program that expands curriculum and gets students excited to learn.”

The following area schools are receiving funding:

n Bethlehem-Center High School, $7,200

n Brownsville Area Elementary School, $3,500

n Carmichaels Area Elementary/Middle-High School, $7,500

n Connellsville Area Middle School/Connellsville Area Career and Technical Center, $7,500

n Frazier Elementary School, $7,500

n Jefferson-Morgan Middle/High School, $7,500

n Waynesburg Central Elementary School (Central Greene School District), $7,500

n West Crawford Elementary School (Connellsville Area School District), $4,000

n West Greene Junior-Senior High School, $7,500

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