- Google.org, the charitable arm of Google, has announced a $5 million grant over the next three years to boost Latino students' access to computer science education, according to a company news release. The grant, awarded to YWCA, UnidosUS and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), represent part of a $25 million commitment by Google to help African-American and Latino students develop career skills.
- UnidosUS said in a statement that its $2 million grant would help it launch its new CASA Code program, aimed at introducing Latino middle school students to coding and computer science. The statement said the program will give students hands-on coding and computer science experience in Spanish and will involve their parents in teaching them about academic opportunities and career paths in the field. UnidosUS will also add Google's free CS First coding curriculum to its offerings, it said.
- In its statement, the YWCA said Google.org's $2 million grant will help fund the organization's STEM E3 initiative, which works with young women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The YWCA will also work with Google's CS First curriculum, it said in the statement.
Reaching minority communities has been a priority for educators and employers seeking to open access to and cultivate interest in STEM fields. Currently, Hispanic people account for 16% of the U.S. workforce, but only 7% of the country's STEM workforce, according to a 2018 data analysis by Pew Research Center. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that minorities make up a small percentage of STEM degree-holders, as well as the reality that minorities are less likely to enter STEM programs due to a lack of resources in their schools.
Women have also been chronically underrepresented in STEM, and there has been a push to reach more of them, for example, by offering scholarship opportunities and providing educational opportunities, even in early childhood. These efforts can take the form of more formal learning or more casual methods; Deloitte created a comic book series aimed at young girls that features a superhero who uses her STEM savvy to solve problems.
Cities are getting in on the action as well, placing funds made available by governments, foundations and nonprofits into local education systems to boost interest and offer basic skill training in a variety of fields. Other initiatives look to increase the skill sets of teachers at the secondary and primary levels so that they are confident teaching basic digital literacy skills to their students. However, other research points to issues that exist outside of offering more programs — some research shows that a perception of gender bias in STEM might be deterring women from pursing these fields and bridging the existing gap.