Google has announced new commitments of $20 million to expand computer science education among underrepresented communities in the field. The company expects its money to improve access to education for more than 11 million American students.
“If we don’t get this right, the gaps that exist today will only get worse,” said Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, on Wednesday. Technology will end up playing such a big role in the future. That’s the main reason we did it.”
Google’s goal in distributing the money, Pichai says, was to support groups with “deep experience in education” who work with underrepresented communities — including students in rural areas, as well as racial and gender minorities.
The list includes a mix of new organizations and old Google partners. 4-H, which received $5 million, has been with the company since 2017. The Auckland-based Hidden Genius Project, which is also receiving funds, was a 2015 Google Impact Challenge winner. Other recipients include UT Austin’s Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) consortium. ), the CUNY Project for Integrated Computing Education for Educators, and the nonprofit CodePath. Urban finance will focus on Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
“Living in the Bay Area…it’s clear to me how many schools here have already relocated and included exposure to computer science education as part of their curriculum,” Pichai says. “It’s important that this happens across the country, in rural areas, in places that have historically been underrepresented.”
Google will continue to be involved with the organizations that receive the funds and will have some degree of input on how the funds will be used, although Pichai stressed that the approach would be collaborative. “We look forward to partnering and supporting organizations on this scale — we clearly have goals and are working together,” Pichai said. “I wouldn’t call it stewardship so much as a partnership, and we’re here to help these organizations succeed.”
“We’ll help every step of the way, but they’re in the driving seat,” said Justin Steele, Google.org Americas director.
4-H plans to use $5 million from Google to expand and launch new personalized programs across Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. It also plans to expand teacher professional development and support online computer science education resources.
The group has set a goal of “reaching” 200,000 children, adults, volunteers and educators through computer science programs by 2024 and will update Google regularly on its progress.
“This $5 million grant from Google.org will have a significant impact on the 4-H youth we serve,” said Jennifer Cirangelo, President and CEO of National 4-H Council. the edge. “These resources will provide access to computer science education for youth nationwide, including six million 4-Hours and more than 3,500 teachers across the 4-H system.”
Computer science education has been a hot topic among the big tech companies in recent months and has been a pet problem for Google. Pichai, along with hundreds of signatories, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, signed an open letter in July urging governors and educators to allow “every student in every school to have the opportunity to learn computer science.” “. Google also partnered with Figma earlier this summer to bring its design and prototyping platform to Chromebooks, with the stated goal of helping students experiment with software design.
Better access to computer science education is certainly beneficial to students across the United States—studies have linked it to better problem-solving abilities, higher rates of college enrollment, and improved executive function. It is also certainly beneficial for Google and its competitors to have a larger, more skilled and diverse talent pool.
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