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Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Grant Program

Grants to Wisconsin School Districts to Purchase
High-Tech STEM and Arts Education Equipment

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)

Deadline Date:

12/14/17 11:59 PM


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Grants of up to $25,000 to Wisconsin public school districts and grants of up to $50,000 to school district consortia to purchase equipment for hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics learning opportunities. The purpose of this program is to support the growth of a talent pipeline with the state.

The program is designed to support hands-on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) education by assisting public school districts with equipment purchases used for instructional and educational purposes in fabrication laboratories in Wisconsin schools. The open Fab Lab environment enables students to learn the skills necessary to thrive in the 21st century global economy. Fab Labs may also serve as a local economic development tool, providing a resource for entrepreneurs, businesses and inventors through community access.

To be well prepared for jobs of the 21st century, today’s students must have access to hands-on experience and training, allowing them to put into practice concepts they have learned in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) courses. Increasingly, this type of learning requires equipment such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and plasma cutters.

Through the Fabrication Laboratories (Fab Labs) Grant Program, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is helping to outfit public schools across the state with this type of equipment, which helps students master the skills that are in high demand in the job market. Collaboration is a key feature of these labs, with schools throughout Wisconsin and around the world communicating to share ideas.

Because the fab labs are required to be accessible to the community, they contribute more broadly to economic development by sparking innovation among Wisconsin entrepreneurs, inventors and small businesses.

Funding may be used for the creation and/or expansion of fabrication laboratories within the school district(s). The funds may be used to purchase equipment used for instructional and educational purposes by elementary, middle, junior or high school students.

Fab Labs Grants will be awarded through a competitive process, with applications evaluated based on readiness and long-range planning, curriculum, business and community partnerships, financial need and previous awards.

A fab lab is a high-technology workshop equipped with computer-controlled additive and subtractive manufacturing components, such as 3D printers, laser engravers, computer numerical control routers and/or plasma cutters. A fully functioning fab lab has active engagement with the business community, is accessible to multiple departments within a school or schools, provides community access, and is integrated with the network of Wisconsin-based Fab Labs.

Equipment eligible for grant funding, or which can be counted toward a school district’s match, includes equipment necessary for the creation or expansion of a school’s fabrication laboratory in keeping with fab lab definition given above. Equipment includes computer software required to operate the equipment, installation of the equipment and necessary machine tooling. Equipment does not include any building modifications required to house the equipment, e.g., electrical, ventilation, flooring upgrades or additions. It also does not include supplies.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 176681

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

It is expected that this program will assist 20 public school districts or consortia.

Estimated Size of Grant:

WEDC will provide grants of up to $25,000 to eligible Wisconsin public school districts, or up to $50,000 to consortiums of two or more public school districts.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Wisconsin public school districts as defined in Wis. Stat. §115.01(3) are eligible to apply.

In addition, either a CESA as defined in Wis. Stat. §116.01 or a lead public school district may apply on behalf of a consortium of two or more public school districts.

“CESA” means Cooperative Education Service Agencies, as defined by Wis. Stat. §116.01.

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must match 1:1 the funding amount provided by WEDC. Equipment expenses are the only expenses that can be counted toward the match requirement.

WEDC is flexible on the source of the matching funds. However, expenditures for both match funding and grant reimbursement must be incurred after the grant has been awarded. In-kind match (meaning any contributions made to the project other than cash) will not be considered.

School districts are allowed to submit only one application per round. Potential applicants are encouraged to discuss project options with their district administration to ensure that only one application is developed for the District.

WEDC is excited to once again have the opportunity for school districts to work with our regional directors in FY18, as these directors can share their economic development expertise as well as business and community connections. Applicants should work directly with the WEDC regional economic development director for the region where the school district is located. The regional director will provide access to the Fab Labs Grant application to eligible applicants and will provide instructions on accessing the application. Completed applications must be submitted following the directions provided by a regional director. Complete the electronic form to request an application.

Applications must be submitted following the directions provided by the WEDC regional director by Dec. 14, 2017. The deadline is no later than 11:59 PM on Dec. 14, 2017.

Fabrication Laboratories Resources:

Program Guidelines:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Ann Hyra, Sector Strategy Project Coordinator

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Wisconsin