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Raimondo Administration Announces Second Round of Wavemaker Fellowship to Attract and Retain STEM Talent

224 Professionals Selected, Average Award of Over $3,800 in student loan defrayment

Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation today announced it has selected the second round of recipients of the Wavemaker Fellowship awards. Following a competitive review process, a total of 224 college graduates who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and Design fields at Rhode Island employers will receive the award, which is a tax credit to defray the cost associated with student loan repayment for a minimum of two years.

"I want our homegrown talent to live, work and thrive in Rhode Island," Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. "After graduation, students are often faced with the tough choice between working here or entertaining offers elsewhere. With the Wavemaker Fellowship, we can make that decision a little easier, while enhancing our workforce and retaining the best and the brightest. This award works out to about $475 per month, which can really be beneficial in the lives of recent graduates. Our state is on the move. Companies and businesses are taking a fresh look at Rhode Island, and I want Rhode Islanders to be first in line for these jobs."

More than 325 professionals submitted applications before the June 23 deadline earlier this year. The average annual award for the group of Wavemaker Fellows is approximately $3,875 per year. Applicants were evaluated on a variety of criteria, but most importantly by their pursuit of careers in key advanced industries and the impact of the award on the applicants' decisions to stay and work in Rhode Island.

"Workforce is a key consideration when companies contemplate moving to or expanding in Rhode Island," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "These Wavemaker Fellows are working in sectors that are vital to Rhode Island's economy. We are glad these distinguished individuals have decided in favor of Rhode Island employment. And we congratulate them on their entry into the Fellowship."

The Wavemaker Fellowship opened its first round of applications in May 2016 to provide a financial incentive for RI graduates to stay in-state for a job or to start a business, and welcomed 208 Wavemaker Fellows to the first cohort. Any candidate with higher education loan debt who is employed in a STEM or commercially relevant design field in the state was encouraged to apply.

Approximately 54 percent of Fellows graduated from an RI institution, and 89 percent of Fellows are Rhode Island residents choosing to work in the state. In addition, more than half of the recipients hold a Bachelor's degree, 45 percent have a Master's degree or higher, and 2 percent have an Associate's degree. Twenty-six percent of recipients are employed in the design, food, and custom manufacturing industries; 19 percent work in defense, shipbuilding and maritime; and 15 percent work in IT, cyber, and data analytics.

Awards of varying amounts were granted to candidates who have successfully graduated with graduate, bachelors and associates degrees and who have found work or started their own business in Rhode Island. The award is delivered to recipients in the form of a fully-redeemable tax credit. As part of the Fellowship, awardees will have the opportunity to participate in various personal and professional development activities that enable them to get to know one another and that build even stronger STEM and Design communities throughout the State.

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