Amazon is launching a “childhood-to-career” program that aims to spur underprivileged children and young adults to pursue careers in computer science, according to a statement released Thursday.
With the Amazon Future Engineer program, the tech giant aims to reach more than 10 million kids each year through coding camps, online lessons, introductory and Advanced Placement courses in computer science. Through the program, Amazon will also award computer-science related scholarships and internships at Amazon.
“Computer science skills are some of the most in-demand in the modern economy,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer. “We have created Amazon Future Engineer because we believe young people from all backgrounds should have help from childhood to career so they can have a future in this highly paid, rapidly-growing field.”
“I was lucky to be exposed to tech and coding at a young age,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in a tweet. “I hope the new Amazon Future Engineer program does the same for some kids today.”
Yep, that’s me. I was lucky to be exposed to tech and coding at a young age. Inspired a lifelong love of invention. I hope the new Amazon Future Engineer program does the same for some kids today. https://t.co/xNUdyVMOnb pic.twitter.com/RPZEiIHSap
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 1, 2018
This is how the program will work:
For kindergarteners through eighth graders: Amazon will fund online computer science classes as well as camps through partnerships with organizations like Code.org and Coding with Kids, so underserved students will have “an opportunity to discover the potential of coding in an interactive, hands-on way,” according to the statement.
For ninth to 12th graders: Amazon will provide funding to schools to offer Intro to Computer Science and AP Computer Science courses. The company said it is focusing on low-income Title I and rural schools, in order to expand access to prep courses, curricular resources and programs to “prepare and propel” students in their pursuit of computer science education.
For college students: Amazon will offer four-year, $10,000 annual college scholarships for individuals from underserved communities who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science. In addition, college freshman who received a scholarship from Amazon will be eligible for a paid software development internship at the company.
This comes as more and more states adopt K-12 computer science policies. Last month, the Code.org Advocacy Coalition and the Computer Science Teachers Association released a report that found that black, Hispanic, poor and rural students are less likely than their peers to attend a high school that provides access to computer science courses.
“This program from Amazon will play an important role in helping make computer science education—and high paying jobs—a reality for female and underrepresented minority students,” Hadi Partovi, CEO of Code.org, said.
Amazon ran a trial of the Amazon Future Engineer program in 2017 and 2018, and saw a “tremendous response” from students, schools and communities across the U.S., the company said. The four-phase program is designed to allow students at every level to continue developing computer science skills.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.