The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced the first recipients of the Wisconsin’s Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Grant Program. This investment has the ability to fund new fabrication laboratory facilities, providing Wisconsin’s children with valuable job training and bringing them into the 21st Century’s global economy.
This program was created in the 2015-17 biennial budget at the urging of State Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma), making $500,000 available to school districts through WEDC. In response to an overwhelming number of applications, WEDC was able to leverage the flexibility of its program funding to move an additional $101,000 to the initiative, allowing awards up to $25,000 for 25 school districts. A map of the school districts receiving grants can be found here.
WEDC’s Fab Labs Grant Program requires matching funds from each school district and is designed to prepare students for manufacturing jobs in the future. In addition, the awards support the purchase of Fab Lab equipment for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior, or high school students.
WEDC received 90 applications representing over $2 million in funding requests. All applications were competitively evaluated based on criteria that included evidence of long-range of planning, curriculum, partnerships, and financial need. The review committee consisted of experts from the Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and UW-Stout along with two WEDC team members.
Fab Labs have the potential to benefit individual students, school districts, and Wisconsin’s economy as a whole. For more information, visit www.inwisconsin.com/fablabs.