New Amazon grant to boost computer science education in Duval elementary schools

Aug. 4, 2023 — Amazon and Duval County Public Schools this week announced that Amazon is funding computer science education and teacher professional development for elementary schools in the district — impacting thousands of students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech — as part of its Amazon Future Engineer program.

Duval County Public Schools is now part of Amazon Future Engineer’s target to bring computer science to 500,000 elementary students by 2025.

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 typically in-person PD 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.

Dr. Yvonne Spinner, the district’s director of science, said the program’s first phase will be to provide the professional development curriculum to 16 pre-selected elementary schools. The computer science curriculum will eventually be expanded to all elementary schools within three years.

This initiative, said Spinner, is key to unlocking a future full of possibilities for students. “Amazon Future Engineer’s groundbreaking initiative to introduce computer science to elementary school’s marks an exhilarating leap forward in Duval County Public Schools,” said Spinner. “It will simultaneously empower our children to master the language of innovation and technology, and elevate our teachers through state-of-the-art training. Equipped and inspired by BootUp’s training, our educators will become catalysts of a digital revolution, while our students will learn to speak the language of tomorrow.”

“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 of Amazon’s philanthropic education initiatives. “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.”

“This is the first ongoing national sponsorship focused on implementing equitable and sustainable computer science education that is available to all students district-wide,” said BootUp’s Chief Executive Officer Savita Raj. “We prepare educators and support districts in building long term programs that provide equitable access to computer science opportunities for all students. Through this partnership, we will build a community of curious, innovative, thoughtful learners who are ready to most brilliantly impact our futures.”

Amazon’s commitment to Duval County Public Schools is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to increase access to computer science/STEM education across the country, primarily through Amazon Future Engineer. In addition, Amazon has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education. Already in Florida, 288 schools are participating in the Amazon Future Engineer program.

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