Google has announced a new $20 million effort to expand computer science education among an underrepresented community in the field. The company hopes the funding will improve access to education for more than 11 million American students.
“If we don’t get this right, it will exacerbate the gap that exists today,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Wednesday. “Technology is going to play a very big role in the future. That’s the fundamental reason why we do it.”
Pichai said Google’s goal in distributing the funds was to support groups with “deep educational expertise” working with minority communities, including rural students and racial and gender minorities. .
This slate is a mix of newer organizations and longtime Google partners. 4-H received his $5 million and has been working with the company since 2017. The Oakland-based Hidden Genius Project, which also received funding, was the winner of Google’s 2015 Impact Challenge. Other beneficiaries include UT Austin’s Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) Alliance, CUNY’s Computing Integrated Teacher Education project, and his nonprofit CodePath. Urban funding will be concentrated in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles.
“Living in the Bay Area, it’s clear to me that many schools here have already moved and incorporated CS education as part of their curriculum,” says Pichai. “It’s important that this happens across the country, in rural areas and in historically underrepresented places.”
Google will continue to engage with organizations receiving funding and provide some information on how the funds are used, but Pichai emphasized that this approach is collaborative. “We aim to partner with and help organizations of this scale. We have clear goals and we work together,” said Pichai. “I wouldn’t call it oversight as much as a partnership. We are here to help these organizations succeed.”
Google.org Americas Director Justin Steele said:
4-H plans to use Google’s $5 million to expand and launch new in-person programs in Iowa, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia. We also plan to expand professional development for educators and support online computer science educational resources.
The group has set a goal of ‘reaching out’ to 200,000 children, adults, volunteers and educators through its CS program by 2024 and will regularly update its progress on Google.
“This $5 million grant from Google.org will have a significant impact on the 4-H youth we serve,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of the National 4-H Council. says Mr. The Barge“These resources provide access to computer science education for young people across the country, including six million 4-H’ers and more than 3,500 educators across the 4-H system.”
Computer science education has been a hot topic among big tech companies in recent months, and an issue of particular importance to Google. Pichai, along with hundreds of other signatories, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, signed an open letter in July calling on governors and educators to “everything in every school. of students to have the opportunity to learn computer science.” Google also partnered with Figma earlier this summer to bring its design and prototyping platform to his Chromebooks, with the goal of helping students experiment with software designs.
Greater access to computer science education is certainly a boon for students across the United States. Research has linked it to better problem-solving skills, higher college enrollment rates, and better executive function. It’s also certainly an advantage for Google and its competitors to have a larger, more skilled and more diverse talent pool.