STEM Funding

NEF's $80 Million Matching Grants Enable Schools to Qualify for $800 Million for Energy and STEM

The National Education Foundation (NEF) has set aside $80 million for mandated matching grants to school districts and schools to allow them to receive up to $800 million in federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) funds.

“Disadvantaged” school districts and charter schools, with 35 percent or more students on free or reduced cost meals, can apply for up to $30 million for energy, renovation, technology and STEM projects, according to NEF. Up to $800 million in zero-interest QZAB funds are available nationally. If the money is used for energy, a QZAB allocation becomes a full grant, the NEF said.

Any eligible school district or charter school can apply at

In order to persuade Congress to make the QZAB program permanent at $400 million per year, NEF is asking all eligible school districts and charter schools to apply as soon as possible. QZAB funds are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. NEF staff will assist applicants in completing the two-page QZAB application.

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., NEF offers 5,500 online courses of all grade levels and runs the K-12 CyberLearning Academy and various academic, digital and workforce training projects in the United States and abroad.

“NEF’s QZAB mission is to help schools get the much-needed QZAB funds and prepare students better for college and highly competitive 21st century global economy jobs,” said NEF Chairman Appu Kuttan in a prepared statement.

NEF also partners with the State University of New York (SUNY) to set up STEM+ academies in schools, mapped to every state’s standards. NEF has STEM+ academies in 20 states and in several major cities. The organization’s ultimate goal is provide STEM+ education to students in the most disadvantaged U.S. school districts by 2020.

For information about NEF’s grant programs, call 703-823-9999, or visit

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at

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