ROI awarded Indiana Commission for Higher Education grant for STEM Fellows program

Funding will enhance STEM Fellows program and expand it to include both elementary and middle school educators

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has been awarded an $85,000 grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund. ROI is among 16 organizations and colleges awarded grants in the program’s fifth round of funding to support programs that recruit, prepare, place, and retain educators in underserved STEM classrooms and high-need school districts.

ROI will utilize this grant funding to enhance its STEM Fellows program in the Indiana Uplands region and expand it to include middle school educators.

 “The Indiana Uplands is fortunate to have an abundance of career opportunities in STEM fields,” said ROI Vice President of Talent Development Michi McClaine. “But we know that early interventions in STEM learning are crucial to getting students interested and keeping them engaged in STEM through middle school and beyond. ROI is grateful to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for this opportunity to grow and enhance the STEM Fellows program. Not only will it benefit educators, students, and school districts, the STEM Fellows program is creating a pipeline of competitive STEM talent that will enable our industry sectors and our region to prosper long into the future.”

STEM Fellows is a year-long professional development program designed to increase the confidence and competence of students and elementary teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Fellows develop skills to become effective peer leaders within their schools, share learning with their colleagues, and encourage other teachers to integrate STEM into their curriculum. Working with ROI’s education team, Fellows participate in ongoing professional development activities addressing a wide range of content, including project-based learning, the engineering design process, making and makerspaces, computational thinking, microelectronics, and more. At each professional development event, educators leave with new learning and a better understanding of how to make connections to science, technology, engineering, and math in the classroom.

ROI’s STEM Fellows program began in 2017 and, to date, has included five cohorts, for a total of 97 K-6 teachers working in 23 of the 27 school districts across the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands region. The program was developed in response to ROI’s Occupational Needs Assessment findings, which emphasizes the importance of having STEM-literate students to meet current and future workforce needs and provide a basis for continued economic growth and prosperity in the Uplands region. Throughout their fellowship, educators are encouraged to think deeper about STEM teaching and find ways to make meaningful connections between the content covered in class and future opportunities for their students. Fellows explore STEM content and topics related to the Uplands’ key industry sectors of defense, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing.

In fall 2022, ROI will expand the program to focus on middle school STEM. Participants will receive STEM training and professional development relevant to the Indiana STEM Praxis exams required for license endorsements in middle school science, computer science, or technology education. ROI has also partnered with the National Institute of STEM Education (NISE) to provide middle school Fellows with access to the STEM Essentials micro-certifications, a framework for quality STEM pedagogy. NISE’s research-based system shows that students benefit from continual practice with STEM strategies and that these strategies must integrate and support required content standards in addition to building students’ readiness for 21st-century skills and STEM workforce demands.

Read more about ROI’s STEM Fellows:

Feature Video showcasing STEM Fellows & student experiences:

About the Indiana Commission for Higher Education STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund:

The General Assembly created the STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund in 2013 to support programs working to increase the number of high-quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teachers in Indiana school corporations encountering shortages of qualified teachers and in schools located in underserved areas. The fund has supported over 2,000 STEM educators throughout Indiana since the Commission began administering the program in 2015. For more information and to see the list of past recipients, visit:

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives:

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington counties). ROI is growing potential and possibility through a focus on advanced industry sectors, regionalism, transformative school and workforce redesign, and placemaking strategies. To learn more about ROI’s programs, visit