(Nasdaq:AMZN) – Amazon will donate $3.9 million to CodeVA through 2022 to support their long-term plan to offer computer science education and training to every high needs school across Virginia – more than 700 schools, including rural regions like the Eastern Shore, the Tobacco Commission service region and Appalachia that may otherwise lack access, training or funding. The donation will support more than 500,000 students and more than 12,000 teachers, particularly those in underserved and underrepresented communities.
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First Lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam, announces Amazon’s $3.9 million donation to nonprofit CodeVA to help expand computer science education to underserved communities throughout the state during a virtual visit to computer science students from CodeRVA Regional High School. (Photo: Business Wire)
Amazon has donated the first of three $1.3 million installments to CodeVA, and these funds will help CodeVA make virtual computer science curriculum and training available to tens of thousands of teachers and students throughout Virginia who are now learning from home for the remainder of the academic year. Amazon’s donation supplements Governor Ralph Northam’s state grants to implement computer science standards throughout Virginia and doubles CodeVA’s annual operating budget through 2022.
To accommodate at-home learning in response to COVID-19, CodeVA quickly developed virtual programming for students, teachers, and families learning from home; started conducting live, online code-along events, including free bi-weekly AP computer science exam prep sessions; shifted dozens of teacher training opportunities from in-person to online; and developed unplugged computer science education resources, including Snail Mail CS, for students with lower internet connectivity and for families who want students spending less time on screens.
“Today’s young people, especially our computer science students, are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, researchers, entrepreneurs and job creators,” said Rebecca Dovi, CodeVA Founder and Director of Education. “Now more than ever, it’s imperative more students have computer science resources to solve some of the big, unprecedented challenges our world faces. Amazon’s donation is a game-changer during this unprecedented time for schools, teachers, students, and their families.”
Virginia’s First Lady, Pamela Northam, a former science educator and Chair of the Virginia STEM Education Commission, announced Amazon’s donation to CodeVA during a virtual visit to CodeRVA Regional High School computer science students who are learning from home. She was joined by Ardine Williams, Vice President of Workforce Development, HQ2 at Amazon. During the virtual visit, CodeRVA student Kaylie Nichols, winner of CodeVA’s recent CS In Your Neighborhood competition, presented her winning computer science project. Dozens of students then participated in a Q&A session about computer science and STEM careers with First Lady Northam and Ms. Williams.
“We have made great strides in recent years in igniting curiosity in STEM education and careers in an equitable way, and we won’t let this pandemic slow us down,” said First Lady of Virginia, Pamela Northam. “Amazon’s donation to CodeVA strengthens Virginia’s first-of-their-kind computer science standards and will help students develop these critical workforce skills while they learn from home and once they transition back to the classroom.”
In February, Governor Ralph Northam announced more than $1.3 million in state grants to support the implementation of Virginia’s Computer Science Standards of Learning. In 2016, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring that the Standards of Learning include computer science and coding. The standards, which were adopted by the state Board of Education in 2017, are the nation’s first mandatory K-12 computer science standards.
“CodeVA is an innovative, respected, and results-driven nonprofit in our new home of Virginia,” said Ardine Williams, Vice President of Workforce Development, HQ2 at Amazon. “We are confident that this donation will help the Commonwealth train more students from underserved communities and prepare our future Virginia workforce to be ready for exciting technology careers at Amazon and beyond. In this time of countless unknowns, we applaud CodeVA’s ability to quickly change gears, and transition to providing hardworking students, teachers, and families what they need right now to stay on track and to stay focused day to day.”
Amazon is committed to bringing more resources to children and young adults to help them build their best future. Amazon has invested more than $50 million to increase access to computer science/STEM education and has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country. Amazon’s primary computer science access program, Amazon Future Engineer, is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to try computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire hundreds of thousands of young people to explore computer science; awards dozens of schools Amazon Future Engineer Robotics Grants, provides over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; awards 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships; as well as offers guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience, and forms unique partnerships with trusted institutions to bring new coding experiences to students. There are currently nearly 30 high schools in Virginia that are part of Amazon Future Engineer. Amazon Future Engineer is supporting students of all ages and high school AP computer science students amid the COVID-19 pandemic with free, online curriculum.
Learn more about how Amazon is supporting its communities, partners, customers, and employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic here.
CodeVA is a statewide nonprofit organization with a mission of broadening participation in computer science by expanding access for all students to computer science literacy across the Commonwealth. Its board of directors comprises Virginia superintendents of schools, professional educators, and corporate and industry leadership invested in Computer Science workforce pipeline development. CodeVA provides advocacy, direct student programs, teacher professional development and school division support at no cost to educators. Formed in 2013, CodeVA was the first national affiliate partner of Code.org, a national nonprofit with a similar mission and goals. For more information about advocacy, children’s programs and free teacher professional development programs, visit codevirginia.org and follow @codeVirginia.
Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.
About Amazon in the Community
Amazon is committed to helping more children and young adults, especially those from underrepresented and underserved communities, have the resources and skills they need to build their best future. Amazon focuses on building long-term, innovative, and high impact programs that leverage Amazon’s unique assets and culture. Initiatives include Amazon Future Engineer, designed to inspire and excite tens of thousands of children and young adults from underserved and underrepresented communities each year to pursue computer science, as well as programs that support immediate needs, including addressing family homelessness through donations and housing a homeless shelter in its Seattle headquarters, as well as global relief efforts for people in need following natural disasters. You can read more about how Amazon in the Community is supporting its HQ cities here.