White House Announces New and Renewed Maker Initiatives

White House Announces New and Renewed Maker Initiatives

Exciting maker news was released by the White House on Wednesday prior to President Obama’s keynote conversation at SXSW. Here are some highlights:

Expansion of TechHire to 50 Communities. A year ago today, the President launched TechHire as 21 communities working with over 300 employers announced actions to empower Americans with the skills they need. These communities are piloting programs to train workers—often in just a few months—through nontraditional approaches like “coding bootcamps.” Today, we are announcing that we have reached the goal set by the President to double the number of TechHire communities from 21 to more than 40 with the addition of 15 new communities working with 200 employers joining the effort.  [Note: To view the list of TechHire communities, view the White House fact sheet. As a Michigander, I am proud to see Flint, Michigan, on the list.]


Strengthening and Extending On-the-Job Training for International STEM Graduates of U.S. UniversitiesTo strengthen educational experiences of international students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule, expanding and extending use of the existing Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for STEM graduates, and requiring stronger ties between STEM OPT students and universities after graduation to enhance the students’ educational experience.


Progress on the President’s Nation of Makers Initiative. In 2014, President Obama launched the National Makers Initiative to give more people access to new technologies to design and build just about anything. Today, the U.S. Department of Education is launching the Career Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge to encourage the creation of more makerspaces in American high schools. [Ed: I am proud to be selected as a judge for this event — and don’t delay, as the initial applications are due April 1!]

The White House is also announcing the dates for the 2016 National Week of Making as June 17 – 23.


Advancing Career and Technical EducationIn addition, Acting Secretary of Education John King will call on Congress to reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Education Act, emphasizing the Administration’s ongoing commitment to ensure that we are incentivizing high-quality programs, encouraging innovation, and aligning CTE programs with postsecondary and career opportunities …


In June 2014, President Obama hosted the first-ever Maker Faire and launched the Nation of Makers initiative, an all-hands-on-deck call to give many more students, entrepreneurs, and Americans of all backgrounds access to a new class of technologies—such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and desktop machine tools—that are enabling more Americans to design, build, and manufacture just about anything.


In collaboration with the Department of Education, and complementary to the CTE Makeover Challenge, Digital Promise and Maker Ed are launching the Maker Promise, a pledge for K-12 school leaders to support their students by dedicating a space for making, designating a champion for making, and displaying the results of making. Participating schools will have access to a suite of resources that enable them to empower students to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.

As Obama enters the final ten months of his presidency, these efforts, combined, should give the maker movement enough momentum to continue into the next presidential administration. It is interesting to consider what the next administration, on either side of the aisle, will pursue.

Kristin Fontichiaro


Image credit: “White House Maker Faire (201406180006HQ” by NASA HQ PHOTO on Flickr. CC-NC-ND-2.0. https://flickr.com/photos/nasahqphoto/14267157839


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