- Amazon announced Tuesday that it will provide introductory and Advanced Placement (AP) computer science classes in more than 130 schools in the New York City area, according to an article on the company's Day One blog.
- The Amazon Future Engineer initiative — which uses coding camps, online lessons and other programs to push underserved and low-income students to pursue computer science careers — will support the courses. They'll appear in schools across the city's five boroughs, including 30 schools in Queens — one of two chosen locations for the company's second headquarters.
- With Amazon's funding, teachers will have access to preparatory lessons, tutorials and professional development opportunities, and both teachers and students will get live online support resources during the week, according to the Day One blog. The funding also provides students with a digital curriculum and a free membership to AWS Educate, whose resources aim to build knowledge and skills in cloud computing.
Amazon's latest announcement is the latest of a string of education initiatives it's committed to in recent months. The company's CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced in September that he would pledge $2 billion to form a preschool network in low-income communities, as well as to support nonprofits dedicated to supporting families — two donations that critics said came much too late in comparison to other major figures' philanthropic work.
However, since September, Bezos's online retailing company has doubled down on its goal of helping students and families in underprivileged areas, announcing in November the launch of the Amazon Future Engineer program. And with the arrival of HQ2 to New York City, which struggles with high levels of poverty, and Northern Virginia comes a slew of computer science- and, more generally, STEM-related opportunities to both areas and their respective school communities.
While the New York City public school system is the nation's largest district — leaving many students to potentially benefit from Amazon's newly announced initiatives — schools across the U.S., and especially those in rural or high-poverty areas, don't have the luxury of benefiting from proximity to a major tech company. Computer science has proven to be increasingly valuable, but sometimes there aren't enough teachers who are trained in the subject. Other times, it's because there isn't enough time to teach the subject.
But with more opportunities for grants, localized partnerships and assistive technology, bringing computer science to the classroom — and to the attention of teachers and students — could be on the horizon.
In addition to federal and state grants, Amazon Future Engineer is just one outlet educators can use to increase the prominence of STEM in their schools. The program is accepting applications at www.amazonfutureengineer.com, and for administrators — as well as teachers, parents and students — whose schools lack computer science education, bidding for a spot could prove to be worthwhile.