Intel is investing in a program to teach computer science to Oakland Unified School District high schoolers, which over the next five years will add up to $5 million.
Its goal is to send 600 high school graduates to college for computer science engineering as Intel “scholars.” According to Natalie James of Tech News Today, these students will receive scholarships and have internships and jobs at Intel waiting for them after graduation.
Intel’s chief diversity officer Rosalind Hudnell said:
We want parents to know: if you encourage kids going into this field, there is a job waiting for them.
Intel will be developing curriculum, training teachers, and providing technology at two high schools: Oakland Technical School and McClymonds High School.
Brian Stanley, executive director of the Oakland Public Education fund, helped work with Intel on the grant and said:
Our vision is that we will get more Oakland kids on the pathway to the jobs both of today and jobs in the future. A lot of companies nibble around the edges of training or preparing kids for the future. This is a meaningful investment that I think shows leadership from a company like Intel and it’s going to be great for Oakland kids and great for Oakland teachers.
The program was announced at the Rainbow PUSH Silicon Valley Tech 2020 Summit by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, reports Kristin Frasch of HRE Daily.
Programs like these may serve to pave the way for more minorities and women to enter the technology field, which has become one of Intel’s stated goals. 71% of the children in the Oakland Unified School District come from families with a yearly income of less than $31,000 and more than 65% of its students are people of color, making it a prime target for a program aimed at raising up traditionally underserved groups.
Antwan Wilson, the superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District, said:
We look forward to really creating a national model right here in Oakland that shows how to build 21st century pathways to help students from all backgrounds excel in their careers, particularly careers in computer science and engineering.
That’s what I am excited about. Our kids are going to get the opportunity to have a shot of that.
The program is in line with a new report about the “dismal” state of computer science education in California high schools, especially those that serve a large portion of low-income and/or minority students. The Level Playing Field Institute, which works to bring minorities into STEM fields, released a report entitled Path Not Found that surveyed California’s 20 largest districts, writes Michelle Maitre of EdSource.
Alexis Martin, the report’s author and director of research at the Level Playing Field Institute, said:
We cannot continue to have conversations about diversity in the tech industry without addressing vast gaps in opportunity for all students to gain an equitable footing in computing.
Intel also plans to increase its spending that goes to suppliers owned by minorities and women by more than sixfold to $1 billion a year by 2020. This year, 41% of Intel’s hires have been women or racial minorities, writes Jessica Guynn of USA Today.
We are not fully represented on the supplier side yet because the technology and level of complexity of our supplier base is high. Some of these suppliers won’t be ready. They won’t have the right education or capabilities. We will lift those suppliers up.