COVA STEM Hub Announces $450,000 in Grant Awards

COVA STEM Hub Joins Global Community of Practice and Announces $450,000 in Grant Awards

Newport News, VA — Coastal VA STEM Hub, a regional STEM learning ecosystem, has announced the grant awards for educators and nonprofits in the region to establish new science, technology, engineering and math focused initiatives, activities and programming. Funding availability was announced in April and 31 applications were received from across Coastal Virginia. The competitive application process resulted in awarding grants to 20 organizations totaling nearly $450,000. 

 Additionally, Coastal VA STEM Hub has been invited to join the STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice (SLECoP), a global movement devoted to advancing STEM learning opportunities for all. Coastal VA STEM Hub is the first official SLECoP member in Virginia. 

 “COVA STEM Hub, while established and supported by the city of Newport News, is truly a resource for the entire region,” said Newport News City Manager Cindy Rohlf. “STEM literacy and education are vitally important to our future economy, and we are pleased to be able to provide these STEM grants to organizations throughout Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. Now that COVA STEM is part of the global STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, we can leverage that collective knowledge and experience to expand STEM opportunities for all residents of Coastal Virginia.” 

 The STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice has grown steadily since its inception in 2015, with new ecosystems joining the global initiative and working with one another to build meaningful connections among community partners, and to prepare students for the opportunities and challenges of the future.  Now with 111 individual ecosystems in more than 40 states across the U.S., as well as in Kenya, Israel, Mexico, Iceland and Canada, the SLECoP is a collective of thought leaders and innovators who understand thriving communities are built through collaboration among schools, institutions, businesses and industry. 

 Coastal VA STEM Hub, which serves residents from pre-K to adult, is a consortium of partnerships in industries, educators, museums, libraries, families, nonprofits and many others across the region who work together to promote STEM education and engagement. COVA STEM’s partners are working to prepare future generations with critical thinking engagement and design thinking practices to support emerging industries as well as existing industries across the region. 


  • Champions STEM fluency and competency; 
  • Supports career focused STEM programming that aligns to STEM careers; and 
  • Is an inclusive collaborative community with a diversity, equity & inclusion focus.  

 Grant funds were awarded to the following organizations to support new STEM-related activities and programs. 

  • City of Newport News/Brooks Crossing Innovation + Opportunity Center ($96,000): New STEM training equipment and community events such as the annual STEM Exploration Community event. 
  • Virginia Partnership for Out-of-School Time ($70,664): To support new STEM education outreach campaign to help public libraries start new programming that develops STEM awareness, literacy, and skill development. Includes professional development for staff from various libraries in the region to create STEM programming in their library systems.  
  • National Institute of Aerospace Center for Integrative STEM Education ($65,650): To deliver multiple professional learning experiences for STEM administrators and educators and provide materials for educators to bring back to classrooms. 
  • Norfolk Innovation Corridor ($43,475): To expand Henry Ford Invention Convention to more Norfolk Public Schools. The free Pre-K to 12 invention education program combines STEM with Invention and Entrepreneurship (STEMIE) learning to instill problem-identification, problem-solving, entrepreneurship and creativity skills for life —inspiring young people to become innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs.  
  • Newport News Public Library System ($23,568): To develop new STEM programming and supplies for NNPL to support Pre-K to 5th grade student programs along with extensive outreach to community. 
  • Youth Volunteer Corps of Hampton Roads, Inc. ($22,100): To launch the Service Through STEM program in Hampton City Schools. This unique initiative for high school students unites the concepts of volunteer service and workforce preparedness through hands-on STEM learning activities and mentorship to younger students. 
  • Nauticus Foundation ($21,100): New STEM to STERN Careers program for 5th grade classes. Program includes classroom visit from a Nauticus Educator to lead class through an investigation of STEM careers in Hampton Roads throughout history, plus a day at Nauticus for the students to explore exhibits and participate in activity-based STEM programs.  
  • Virginia Living Museum ($15,000): To host an inaugural STEM Career Fair in March 2024, which will welcome young people and adults to discover a variety of STEM careers, as well as, specific volunteer and employment opportunities. 
  • Churchland Middle School ($15,000): Trucker Tech Time will conduct monthly STEM sessions with middle school students. Funding will provide materials for several programs (3D printer, Oculus, drones, cricut, and robotics) and STEM field trips for students. 
  • FullSTEAM with the City of Norfolk ($12,500): Five community centers sites will now have access to materials for STEM after school programming in Norfolk. 
  • Virtual Science Teachers ($11,200): To develop new open-source curriculum with hands-on investigations and online interactive lessons that align with middle school science standards that teachers can freely access from the Virtual Science Teachers website and other websites. 
  • Ghent Elementary School ($10,000): Funding for new afterschool STEM clubs, including materials and related field trips. 
  • Virginia Beach Public Library Foundation ($7,500): To launch a Pre-K Environmental STEM Play series, including training for library staff, development of STEM programs, materials for students and delivery of program to VB preschools. 
  • Rosie Riveters ($7,536): Expand current program by providing 12 new session programs to children in Norfolk. The programs are designed to empower girls to believe in themselves and their abilities and to close the gender gap in STEM. 
  • Woodside High School ($7,000): Sound system and technology training for theater group. 
  • FLEx Program, Hampton City Schools ($6,500): New water quality testing kits and activities to use during class discussions; purchase of an Enviroscape for 5th grade teachers to use when discussing water quality, biotic and abiotic factors that affect our environment; field trips for students to get out on the water and to get students involved in oyster restoration.  
  • Phoebus High School ($5,000): Funding for startup of food forest and related curriculum development for students. 
  • Cape Charles Christian School ($3,465): Equipment and software subscription for middle school STEM programming. 
  • Mary Peake Elementary School ($2,588): To start a Cracking a Few for EGGcelence chicken lifecycle program. 
  • Fairfield Elementary ($1,772): For Classroom STEM bins for elementary classes.  

 About COVA STEM Hub

Coastal Virginia STEM Hub (COVA STEM Hub) is a regional learning ecosystem established, with support from the city of Newport News, to remove barriers to the access of STEM education. COVA STEM follows the principles of the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) and is supported by industry leaders, libraries, museums, parents and educators at all levels throughout the Coastal Virginia region (including Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore). By bringing together an entire community, a comprehensive, integrated initiative provides the architecture for cross-sector learning by identifying STEM educators in the private and public sectors and link them to in-school and out-of-school initiatives — building STEM-rich learning environments.