President Trump will announce a new initiative this afternoon directing the Dept. of Education to prioritize the exapnsion of STEM and computer science education. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

President Trump will announce a new executive memorandum this afternoon that will direct the Department of Education to expand students' access to STEM and computer science — fields that the administration says are increasingly playing a more vital role in the economy and lead to more lucrative careers.

Why it matters: At a time when partisan politics strikes down the majority of legislation put forth by Washington lawmakers, this initiative is largely one that both parties can get behind. Barack Obama introduced similar legislation at the end of his presidency, though his proposal, which was much pricier than the $200 million baseline incorporated in Trump's version, never made it through Congress. To avoid the same hiccups, the White House has introduced this as a narrower administrative action.

The memorandum directs the Dept. of Ed to:

  • Establish a goal of devoting at least $200 million per year in grant funds towards this priority.
  • Explore administrative actions that will add or increase focus on Computer Science in existing K-12 and post-secondary programs.
  • Ask that these programs and curriculums be designed with gender and racial diversity in mind.
  • Require an annual report to gauge the effectiveness of these programs. The reports will emphasize analysis on both the students' dropout and program completion rates.
  • The grants will target rural communities and inner cities, but the administration hopes the initiative can extend across the U.S.

Private sector involvement:

  • Ivanka Trump, who has played an integral role in the creation of this initiative, will travel to Detroit Tuesday to discuss their pledge to computer science education. She will also visit a public school Wednesday to experience coding with students firsthand.

Reasoning behind this directive:

  • One senior administration official said interest in this program stems from conversations with business leaders from both large and small companies who have said they are struggling to fill open positions due to a shortage of employees with the necessary training in these fields.
  • p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'; color: #454545} The gender and minority pay gap: the fact that women and minorities are not equally participating in these lucrative fields is a contributing factor.

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