SOUTHFIELD – The SME Education Foundation will receive $6 million from the state of Michigan as part of the approved School Aid Fund Budget (PA 48 of 2021) crafted with bipartisan support from the Michigan Legislature. The award will double the number of schools participating in the unique manufacturer and educator partnership-driven SME PRIME initiative, which offers education and career-readiness opportunities to high school students.

Through the Foundation’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME) initiative, schools are provided a curriculum tailored to give students hands-on training on modern, industry-standard equipment and allows them to explore futures in manufacturing, engineering and STEM-related careers.

Coordinated by highly qualified Foundation education program managers, SME PRIME also encompasses professional development for instructors, summer and extracurricular STEM opportunities for students, and increased scholarship eligibility and access.

Since 2011, SME PRIME schools have been initiated in 63 communities across 22 states, creating opportunities for more than 100,000 students. There are currently 17 SME PRIME schools in Michigan.

Representative Joe Tate (D-Detroit), aware of the work and accomplishments of SME PRIME through his participation on the SME Education Foundation board, along with bill sponsor Representative Brad Paquette (R-Niles), encouraged legislative colleagues to support the program — and to scale it to a statewide commitment. Senator Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) and Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland) played critical roles in the bipartisan, bicameral effort.

“Our SME PRIME schools have been a model; a unique approach to STEM education and career preparation implemented by scores of schools across the nation,” said SME Education Foundation Vice President Rob Luce. “We’re grateful for Joe Tate’s leadership and Senator Schmidt’s and Stamas’ support in sharing our expertise with legislative colleagues to ensure opportunity for Michigan’s high school students.”

Joe Kann, president of the SME Education Foundation Board of Directors, said, “This bipartisanbudget bill is transformational for schools and students throughout Michigan. The SME PRIME initiative is a critical component of that transformation, creating educational opportunities and employment readiness for young people.”

The Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA), which represents traditional and advanced manufacturing enterprises across the state, has been a partner in developing SME PRIME schools and critical to supporting efforts by an industry facing a limited talent pipeline and misperceptions about work environments and opportunities for young people. Having seen the success of SME PRIME firsthand, the MMA was instrumental in obtaining state support for the model initiative.

“This expansion of the SME PRIME school initiative benefits students and Michigan manufacturers,” said John Walsh, President and CEO of the MMA. “Our manufacturing partners need ambitious, creative, and prepared young people ready to take their place in advanced manufacturing. We are proud to advocate for our manufacturing partners – and to be a key contributor to expanding this opportunity for students.”

The award from the State of Michigan is the single-largest financial commitment received by the SME Education Foundation in its history, dating back to 1979.

“The SME Education Foundation, as the philanthropic arm of SME, has been responsible for inspiring and preparing students through scholarships and educational opportunities for decades,” said SME Executive Director and CEO Bob Willig. “They’ve earned this historic award through high standards and achievement. I’m proud of this exceptional recognition of their important work, their contributions to education and their commitment to young people — and ultimately our industry.”

“MMA has been proud to be an active partner with SME and are glad to be a champion for PRIME before the Michigan Legislature,” said Mike Johnston, MMA’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “Finding talent is the number one issue our members talk about and bringing strong CTE programs like PRIME is key to solving Michigan’s talent shortage. This is the first step in showing young people throughout the state the great future that lies with manufacturing careers today and tomorrow.”