Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois has upped its commitment to students wanting to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related careers in health care.

In partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, BCBSIL today announced the offering of a new STEM Scholarship, facilitated by the United Negro College Fund. Beginning May 16, high school seniors can apply for a $20,000 scholarship toward a four-year degree in a STEM-related field. Applications will be accepted through June 24, the insurer said.

"BCBSIL is proud to offer this scholarship to today's students – an investment in tomorrow's leaders and professionals in the health care field," said Maurice Smith, president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, in a statement. "Teaming up with the UNCF to encourage STEM careers also allows us to work with a historic organization that shares our commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as our commitment to advancing educational opportunities in the communities we serve."

STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17% thru 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. BCBSIL expects 14% growth in STEM-related jobs company wide over the next two years. Its initiative expands existing scholarship opportunities, internships and educational programs for students.

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