Google Boosts Computer Science Efforts with $20M in New Grants Targeting Rural and Urban Programs
- By Kristal Kuykendall
Google and its charitable foundation Google.org today announced new grants totaling $20 million to further efforts in expanding access to computer science education to millions more students in under-resourced communities across the country, particularly rural and urban areas.
The funds will go to nonprofits that Google has previously partnered with to create CS education programs in schools that don’t have such curriculum in place, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a new blog published early today:
- The national 4-H organization, to expand its CS Pathway program through Cooperative Extension System, with plans to make the curriculum available online to every 4-H chapter in the country and their 6 million students
- Expanding Computer Education Pathways, which helps policymakers, educators, and partners create and implement CS education plans in all 50 states
- A number of local nonprofits — with a focus on Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles — that give access to CS education to women and Black, Latino, and Native learners, including CodePath in Atlanta and Chicago and the Computing Integrated Teacher Education project at City University of New York
- The Hidden Genius Project, a longtime Google.org grantee, to expand its efforts to train and mentor Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership
“For … so many students, computer science education is providing a foundation in the skills they’ll need for their future careers,” Pichai explained in his blog. “Yet there remain deep opportunity gaps in education that prevent everyone from accessing those skills equally. At Google, we believe educational opportunities should be available regardless of socioeconomic status, background, race or geography.”
The grants continue Google’s focus on “supporting national and local organizations who reach underserved students in major urban centers and rural communities, and who help governments and educators implement CS education plans nationwide,” he wrote.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Pichai emphasized the importance of every student learning the foundations of computer science — regardless of their future career plans.
“Technology will end up touching most jobs; CS education is not about making everyone become coders or something,” he said. “As a first step, CS education is about getting people comfortable with technology, so that boosts their confidence (in using technology), because regardless of the work they do — small business owners including from rural areas, they may have a plumbing business, whatever it is — they'll have to navigate how to be online, how to maybe use Google Analytics for the first time” or how to grow their business using technology.
Exposing students to CS education earlier will “have a profound difference” in those students’ futures and in the nation’s work force and economic output, Pichai added.
The national 4-H program, which began implementing a CS Pathway afterschool program in some local chapters after an initial grant from Google several years ago, with a goal of reaching 1 million students by 2022. The CS Pathway curriculum exceeded that goal, Pichai said Wednesday, with 1.4 million students having participated in the 4-H computer science program thus far.
The new grant funds will be used to expand that program and take it online, enabling more than 3,500 4-H educators to use the CS curriculum in every local chapter across the country, Google said.
The funds earmarked for the ECEP Alliance, a national network coordinated by the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin, “will enable ECEP to partner with policymakers, educators and others on systemic changes that will help more students from a wider range of backgrounds pursue computing-related degrees,” Pichai said. “It will also support the addition of five new states to the ECEP Alliance, laying the foundation for a national framework.”
Learn more about today’s announcement on Pichai’s blog or visit Google.org for more information about the company’s charitable efforts in technology and education.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].