Richland One awarded nearly $15 million Magnet School Programs grant

October 6, 2022

Richland One has been awarded a $14.9 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Only 19 school districts nationwide and only two in South Carolina were chosen to receive the grant awards through a competitive application process.

The MSAP grants “support efforts to develop and revitalize magnet schools with academically challenging and innovative instructional approaches designed to bring together students from different social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds.”

“Today, we’re investing in schools and communities that have shown a commitment to intentionally serving students and closing opportunity gaps based on race, place and circumstance in America,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These grant awards will help communities reimagine our schools through a more equitable lens and raise the bar for how we serve students who too often get left behind.”

Richland One will use the grant funds over a five-year period to implement BLAST (Building Lasting Aerospace and STEAM Trajectories) at three schools – a new school-within-a-school aerospace magnet program at Watkins-Nance Elementary School; a revised school-within-a-school aerospace magnet program at W.A. Perry Middle School; and a revised school-within-a-school national defense-themed magnet program with four academies (pre-engineering, biomedical, cybersecurity and aerospace) at Columbia High School.

BLAST aims to increase diversity through magnet programming, improve academic achievement and encourage students to aspire to careers in aerospace and STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

Elementary and middle school students enrolled in BLAST will engage in activity-based, project-based and problem-based learning with real-world applications. High school students will have dual-enrollment opportunities at local colleges and universities, as well as opportunities for hands-on learning through internships and externships with program partners.

All students who live within the Richland One attendance zone will be eligible to apply to attend one of the BLAST magnet school programs. Bus transportation will be provided for accepted students. The programs will begin in August 2023. The online application system will open in December 2022.