Amazon funding computer science education for 30 elementary schools in DeKalb County

DeKalb County School District Administration and Instructional Complex on Mtn. Industrial Blvd. in Stone Mountain. Photo by Dean Hesse

Stone Mountain, GA — Amazon and DeKalb County School District (DCSD) today announced via a press release that Amazon is funding computer science education and teacher professional development for 30 elementary schools in the district, affecting more than 10,000 students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech.

The funding is part of the Amazon Future Engineer program, a press release said. DeKalb County School District is part of Amazon Future Engineer’s expansion to more than 6,000 schools, 1,000 of which are elementary schools.

Amazon is working with BootUp PD, a nonprofit professional development provider specializing in elementary school education, to bring computer science to each school. BootUp PD’s professional development sessions adapt well to a virtual model and provide teachers with the tools they need to bring engaging coding lessons to their students both on-screen and in-person. High-quality computer science education for elementary school students during their school day is a critical piece of Amazon’s “childhood to career” approach because it helps bridge equity skill gaps at an age when students are just beginning to formulate ideas about their futures.

DCSD has been going through a digital transformation and expanding its learning pathways to include critical skills for students to thrive in modern society. These tools include computer science curricula, encompassing digital literacy, digital competency, and computational thinking. DeKalb’s Career, Technical & Agricultural Education department plans to enhance its Computer Science for All initiative by providing 1,000 K-12 teachers with training to deliver computer science coursework. Their goal is to expand their Computer Science for All initiative to 100,000 K12 DCSD students by 2025.

“We are thrilled about our partnership with Amazon. This expansion of our computer science program will impact at least 30 elementary schools and benefit over 10,000 students from diverse communities over the course of the next three years. This is great news for our District! Technology plays a significant role in STEM education and in our students’ future. This is one more step in DCSD’s digital transformation to provide our students with critical technological skills,” said Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris.

“Amazon Future Engineer is thrilled to hear how teachers continue to go above and beyond to reach young students and pique their interest in computer science,” said Victor Reinoso, Global Director, Amazon Future Engineer. “We are committed to offering high-quality curriculum, professional development, and benefits to support educators as they help their students build life-changing skills that leverage computer science and coding to bring their dreams to life, no matter what career they choose to pursue.”

“The Amazon Future Engineer program will close equity gaps by ensuring computer science learning opportunities for students in underserved communities like DeKalb and throughout the nation,” said Clark Merkley, BootUp PD’s Executive Director. “It’s really the first ongoing national sponsorship focused on implementing sustainable, district-wide computer science. We’re extremely proud to be a part of something that will have a measurable, positive impact for decades to come.”

Amazon’s commitment to DeKalb County School District is part of its investment to increase access to computer science/STEM education across the country, primarily through Amazon Future Engineer. For 2021, the program is on track to meet its goal of reaching 1.6 million students from historically underrepresented communities globally through its real-world-inspired, virtual and hands-on computer science project learning experiences. Amazon Future Engineer already supports more than 40 schools across metro Atlanta with high-quality, free, computer science curriculum, robotics clubs and educator professional learning, the press release says.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon employees are volunteering virtually in Amazon Future Engineer classrooms, talking to the students about the importance of their own computer science education. Amazon Future Engineer also launched the Amazon Cyber Robotics Challenge – a free, virtual, first of its kind coding competition that teaches students the basics of computer science in the context of a real-life industry challenge. To learn more about what Amazon is doing in response to COVID-19 for communities, employees, partners, and customers, check out the Amazon Blog: Day One.

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