STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – Amazon and DeKalb County School District (DCSD) today announced that Amazon is funding computer science education and teacher professional development for 30 elementary schools in the district, impacting more than 10,000 students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech as part of its Amazon Future Engineer program. 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.
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.
About Amazon Future Engineer
Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood-to-career computer science education program intended to inspire and educate millions of students from historically underrepresented communities globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Additionally, each year Amazon Future Engineer awards 100 students with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon, as well as names ten Teacher of the Year winners, awarding $30,000 prize packages for going above and beyond to inspire students in computer science and to promote diversity and inclusion in the field. For 2021, Amazon Future Engineer has a goal to reach 1.6 million students from historically underrepresented communities globally with real-world-inspired virtual and hands-on computer science project learning. The program is currently available in the U.S., U.K., France, Canada and India.
About BootUp Professional Development
BootUp PD is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit specializing in district-wide elementary computer science initiatives that focus on creativity and problem-solving. Since 2015, BootUp has worked with almost 300 elementary schools in ten states, directly impacting over 150,000 students. BootUp prepares teachers to facilitate open-ended coding projects that are project-based and personally meaningful in the free platforms Scratch and ScratchJr. Students are empowered with creative and interactive curricula that allow them to explore their personal interests through coding with design, music, animation, games, or stories. APPLICATIONS ARE BEING ACCEPTED AT: www.afebootup.smapply.org.
About the District
DeKalb County School District (DCSD) is Georgia’s third largest school system. Under the leadership of Superintendent Mrs. Cheryl Watson-Harris and the Board of Education, the District prepares students for college and careers through a laser focus on rigorous, relevant classroom instruction related to each child’s needs. The District serves over 93,000 students, and over 140 schools and centers, and 15,500 employees, including 6,600 teachers. Students and parents speak over 185 languages and represent over 155 nations. With a laser focus, DCSD is a leader in STEM curriculum with 10 certified schools and programs in more than 90 schools.