Senator Yaw Announces PAsmart Grants for BLaST IU 17, Five Local School Districts

HARRISBURG – State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) announced today that the BLaST Intermediate Unit 17 and several local school districts across Bradford, Lycoming and Union counties are the recipients of PAsmart targeted grants to expand computer science programming and training in their school districts.

“These state investments in STEM-based education and computer science enable us to continue to build a highly-skilled workforce across Pennsylvania,” Sen. Yaw said.  “I thank the Governor and Education Secretary Rivera on this important funding to our local Intermediate Unit and schools.”

The BLaST IU 17, which serves over 2,600 students throughout Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, and Tioga counties, has been awarded $35,000.  In addition, Canton Area School District and Towanda Area School District in Bradford County; Williamsport Area School District, Lycoming County; and Lewisburg and Mifflinburg Area School Districts in Union County will each receive $35,000 to help implement computer science programming and training for educators to teach computer science.

“BLAST IU 17 is honored to receive a PAsmart Targeted Grant to support the integration of computer science and STEM innovation,” said Christina Steinbacher-Reed, Executive Director of BLaST IU 17.  “These funds will be used to equip three IU 17 programs with a STEM lab space and tools, which will prepare our students with the computational thinking skills necessary to contribute to a technology-driven workforce. Students impacted by these monies attend the BSI Partial Hospitalization Program and BLaST Academies for Integrated Studies located in both Lycoming and Bradford counties.  We appreciate the support of the PA Department of Education and the PA Workforce Development Board in advancing IU 17’s vision of transforming lives and communities through educational services.”

“The district will use PA Smart Grant funds to expand access to STEM and computer science opportunities, by delivering an Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science course,” said Dr. Timothy Bowers, Superintendent, Williamsport Area School District.  “The addition of this course will complement our robust fifteen AP course offerings at the Williamsport Area High School. The development and delivery of the College Board AP Computer Science course is unique to the area and demonstrates the school district’s commitment to academic excellence and pursuit of leading-edge curriculum.  The grant was written collaboratively by the Director of Federal Programs Patricia Wylie and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Susan Bigger. The grant will enhance the multiple STEM opportunities within WASD and prepare our students with the skills and abilities to meet the economic needs of the 21st century.”

“We’re excited for this opportunity to introduce a number of STEM-related topics to our students,” said Superintendent Daniel Lichtel, Mifflinburg Area School District.  “This is a comprehensive concept where we’re bringing current scientific ideas and challenges to our students and we’re grateful for the grant opportunity to help fund the initiative.”

“The Lewisburg Area School District has consistently looked to provide experiences that stimulate student interest in current and emerging careers,” said Dr. Steve Skalka, Superintendent, Lewisburg Area School District.  “The PA Smart Grant will assist us to continue to expand instruction in coding and computer science across all grade levels.”

According to today’s announcement, $40 million was secured this year for PASmart grants, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education is expected to award $20 million between the Targeted and Advancing grants. The Department of Labor and Industry will soon announce $10 million for apprenticeship and job training grants. Funding for career and technical education also increased by $10 million.

For more state-related news and information visit Senator Yaw’s website at or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.


Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff
(717) 787-3280