Code.org has announced a three-year, $15 million commitment from Amazon in support of efforts to address diversity gaps in the tech workforce.
Awarded through Amazon Future Engineer, the online retailer’s computer science education program, the funding will support initiatives designed to increase students’ awareness of academic and career pathways in computer science and prepare them for success in college-level CS courses and beyond, with a focus on students from underrepresented groups. To that end, and with the goal of doubling participation among underrepresented students in AP computer science within five years, Code.org and Amazon will develop an AP Computer Science A (CSA) Java programming curriculum designed to empower students to realize their dreams through CS. To be made available to all U.S. high schools starting in the 2022-23 school year, the curriculum will incorporate strategies from Culturally Responsive Teaching pedagogy; acknowledge that diversity of experiences and interests is essential to equity and offer opportunities to investigate real-world problems; center a “Software Engineering for All” narrative to help students envision themselves as software engineers; and equip students with additional career skills.
According to the College Board, Black students comprised 15 percent of the U.S. student body in 2020 but only 3.5 percent of the seventy thousand students who took the AP CSA exam; only 14 percent of AP CSA exam takers were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups; and only 25 percent identified as female. State leaders in Georgia, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have pledged to expand AP CSA in 2021-22 and have committed to requiring that all high schools in their states offer computer science.
“Code.org and Amazon believe every student benefits from learning computer science in the twenty-first century,” wrote Code.org founder and CEO Hadi Partovi and Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer division, in a blog post. “Not every student will or needs to become a programmer, but every student should be able to envision themselves as a software engineer and to see people who look like them in these roles. As a society, we need our software engineers to represent all of us, and we need to design and create solutions with all of us in mind.”