As part of ongoing campaigns and efforts to ease fears about the tech giant’s controversial arrival to New York City, Amazon announced yesterday that it will start offering computer science courses at 130 high schools throughout the boroughs. With funding from Amazon’s Future Engineer program, the company will start providing introductory and Advanced Placement Computer Science courses through the New York-based curriculum provider, Edhesive, as early as this fall. The plan covers 37 schools in Queens (the most of any borough), 27 high schools in Manhattan and the Bronx, 35 in Brooklyn, and 6 in Staten Island.
“We want to help make sure more children across New York City gain the coding skills necessary to have successful careers in many fields,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon in a press statement. “We will continue to invest in bringing these classes to more schools in New York City and across the U.S.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Computer science is the fastest growing profession within the STEM fields, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree. Studies have shown that students from underprivileged backgrounds are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school.
“Our young women will expand on their computer science knowledge and the skills that are so important and valuable in today’s economy,” said George Diaz, Assistant Principal at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens in a statement. “Amazon is helping fill a major gap in our curriculum that will help young people acquire the skills to build rewarding careers while boosting prospects for our local community overall.”
The announcement comes in the midst of Amazon’s campaign to get New Yorkers to support the upcoming 4 million square foot campus at Anable Basin in Long Island City. As the New York Times reported, officials have been meeting with community leaders in Queens and beyond over the past several weeks to “reset its image” and address skepticism over many facets of the project, including the project’s impact on the city’s already crippled infrastructure and housing.
Many have expressed concern that the bulk of the 25,000 jobs at the future Long Island City campus should go to locals, and especially those coming from underrepresented backgrounds. This new education initiative seems to be a step in the right direction. However, as the Verge pointed out, many of the schools on the list are already well-funded, “many already require students to have a high grade point average on their middle school report cards, exist in relatively wealthy neighborhoods, and have limited admission. A lot of the schools have “science” in their names and already offer advanced science courses.”
To see a full list of the participating schools, click here.