Computer Science Education Week: More help for more students

Recent research shows that only 45 percent of U.S. schools offer computer science (CS) courses, and that Black, Latinx and Female students especially lack equitable access to a CS education.  So I beat the odds: I am a Black, female, computer engineer at Google.

Majoring in systems and CS at Howard University opened up so many opportunities in my life and career. Computing jobs are the number one source of new wages in the U.S.; clearly, these skills are becoming as important as reading and writing and we can’t afford to leave anyone out. Code with Google is our commitment to closing equity gaps in CS, and this year for Computer Science Education Week we’re announcing two new initiatives to create more access.

 

Code Next goes virtual 

This year, as part of Code with Google’s portfolio of CS education programs, Code Next is expanding. Launched in 2015, Code Next offers free CS education with a focus on Black and Latinx high school students, providing the skills and inspiration they need for long and rewarding careers in computer science-related fields. Originally available only in New York and California, it’s expanded to 16 virtual clubs under a program called Code Next Connect.

Nadirah Pinney, a 2020 Code Next Oakland graduate, said she was reluctant to join the program at first because she wasn’t interested in CS. “I quickly learned to love the way that Code Next taught CS. It not only taught me lessons I didn’t think I could learn, it actually made me more comfortable with myself.” Having graduated from the program, Nadirah is now enrolled at San Jose State University where she’s studying to be a software engineer.  

Image shows two women sitting at a white desk talking over an open laptop. One woman has her back to the camera and is looking at the laptop screen, the other women is facing the camera, looking at the other woman, and smiling.

Nadirah working on a Code Next assignment alongside her Code Next coach Alyssa Lui.

Any student ages 14-18 can now apply to the virtual program starting in January 2021, with the ability to choose a CS-related curriculum track including game design, UX, hardware or intro to scripting. 

 

A new Google.org grant for the Scratch Foundation

We’re building on our work with the Scratch Foundation—a creative coding platform used by more than 2 million students—with a new $5 million dollar Google.org grant. Last year, Google supported Scratch and the Office of CS in Chicago Public Schools to host Family Creative Coding Nights at New Chance Fund elementary schools so that students and their families could come together and create using code.

A woman looks at a laptop that is sitting at a table while two young children gather around to look at the laptop as well. Everyone is smiling.

Champika Fernando (center) from the Scratch team at a Family Creative Coding Night.

The work in Chicago inspired Scratch to create the Scratch Education Collaborative (SEC)—a global network of community led organizations, providing high-quality resources and training, based on the Scratch coding platform, for educators and young people who are historically excluded from computing. Scratch is currently accepting new applications for the pilot year of the SEC; visit the website to see if your organization would be a good fit.

These new initiatives are a part of Google’s larger commitment to CS education. Since 2013, Google.org has given more than $80 million to organizations around the globe working to increase access to high quality CS learning opportunities.

If you’re an educator, make sure to check outCS First Unplugged—our first Hour of Code activity that can be used completely offline and without a computer to support a variety of learning environments. Happy #CSEdWeek, everyone.

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