The White House
Fact Sheet: New Commitments to Support Computer Science Education
“I’m proud to join the students, teachers, businesses, and non-profit organizations taking big new steps to support computer science in America’s schools. Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future – it’s important for our country’s future. If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”
-- President Obama, December 2013, on Computer Science Education Week
Last year, to kick off Computer Science Education Week, President Obama issued a call to action to students, teachers, businesses, foundations, and non-profit organizations to join the growing grassroots campaign to support computer science education in K-12 schools.
The President encouraged Americans from all backgrounds to get involved in mastering the technology that is changing the way we do just about everything, and he encouraged millions of students to learn the skills that are becoming increasingly relevant to our economy.
Commitments Being Announced Today: Broadening Diversity in Computer Science
Improving the participation and success of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science is critical. The number of women completing college degrees in these fields has decreased over the last two decades, and a smaller percentage of U.S. high school students take computer science courses than they did two decades ago. Today, less than 20 percent of students enrolled in AP computer science courses are women or girls, and less than 10 percent are Hispanic or African-American. Furthermore, less than 20 percent of college graduates in computer science are women. A number of leading organizations are taking new steps to address this challenge, including:
- The USA Science and Engineering Festival will launch a prize for computer science classroom design. The USA Science and Engineering Festival is announcing a classroom-design prize competition that will launch on January 5, 2015. Research has shown that small changes in classroom design elements can dramatically affect the attractiveness of computer-science courses to girls. The competition will engage teams of high school students around the country to create cost-effective and innovative designs for K-12 computer science classrooms that encourage more young women to study computer science and pursue careers in STEM. The competition will run throughout spring 2015, and the most innovative ideas will be awarded with cash prizes. Some of the prize winners will be considered for further in-classroom testing and potential deployment in classrooms around the country. The entries for the competition will be student-driven, and the design of the competition was led by the Youth Advisory Board to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in partnership with the Dell Youth Innovation Advisors.
- A new nationwide initiative to engage Latinas in technology careers. Latinas represent the fastest-growing female population in the U.S. Including their perspectives and talent in information technology is vital to growing our innovation economy. In collaboration with major Latino community influencers and organizations, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is launching a nationwide initiative to engage Latinas in computing and technology careers. NCWIT will leverage its research capabilities and national network of partners to design and launch a national media campaign and supporting program to give Latinas the inspiration to explore technology careers, the resources to engage in computer science, and connections to computer science support networks. Central to this initiative will be strategies to engage Latino parents, families, and influencers in supporting Latinas’ pursuit of technology education and careers. The project will launch on January 20, 2015 with a working roundtable of Latino leaders who will inform messaging and support the implementation of the campaign.
- #YesWeCode expands efforts to more youth from under-represented communities into coding.#YesWeCode, a national initiative of Dream Corps Unlimited to support the movement to train 100,000 low opportunity youth to become high-level computer programmers, is announcing that it will host a series of 4-6 youth-focused hackathons in key cities in 2015 including in New Orleans, Detroit, and Oakland. At these hackathons, local youth will team up with professional developers, innovators, designers and mentors to create apps to benefit their communities. This will complement #YesWeCode’s efforts to incubate a national job-training pipeline in Oakland, in partnership with the public school district, major tech employers, independent grassroots coding education groups, and other major community stakeholders. The job-training three-step pipeline is designed to guide youth from introductory coding programs, to immersive job-training programs, and eventually into employment. Once fully realized in Oakland, the plan is to replicate nationally.