Microsoft has announced plans to invest $75 million over the following three years in initiatives that will increase access to computer science education for students across the globe.
The move comes as a boost to the company’s YouthSpark program, which works to get students interested in computer science, which also works to increase the future talent pool for the technology industry. The industry is currently facing not only a shortage in the area of computer science graduates, but also a shortage among women and minority workers.
“If we are going to solve tomorrow’s global challenges, we must come together today to inspire young people everywhere with the promise of technology,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “We can’t leave anyone out. We’re proud to make this $70 million investment in computer science education to create new opportunities for students across the spectrum of diverse youth and help build a tech talent pipeline that will spark new innovations for the future.”
The new initiatives will allow nonprofit organizations around the world to receive donations and resources from Microsoft, all of which will help to expand computer science education. In addition, Microsoft will reach out to high schools through TEALS, or Technology Education and Literacy in Schools, a program that matches Microsoft engineers with teachers in order to team-teach computer science to high school students, writes Jessica Guynn for USA Today.
Microsoft executives hope to have TEALS in 700 high schools in three years and in as many as 4,000 schools within the next decade. They would also like to see the programs focus on urban and rural districts as well as on women and minorities.
The program is one of many recent efforts to increase interest in computer science education within K-12 schools. Tech companies such as Google and Facebook have also donated money and resources in an effort to help children gain the skills necessary to become successful within the tech industry after graduation.
Cities, too, are beginning to place an emphasis on computer science. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a plan that would have all the schools in the city teaching the subject within 10 years. Computer science is currently taught in fewer than 10% of the city’s schools, with fewer than 1% of students participating.
Similar plans have been created in other cities. Chicago announced that computer science will become a high school graduation requirement and that the subject will be offered to at least one-quarter of all elementary students by 2018. In San Francisco, the Board of Education voted earlier this year to phase the subject in from preschool through high school.