Amazon needs help identifying Delaware's underprivileged students - Technical.ly Delaware

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Mar. 22, 2019 2:56 pm

Amazon needs help identifying Delaware’s underprivileged students

The Future Engineer Program, marketed as geared toward under-served communities, is launching at Newark Charter School. Huh?
A still from Amazon’s promotional footage for the Future Engineer program.

A still from Amazon's promotional footage for the Future Engineer program.

(Screenshot via Amazon)

When Amazon announced that it was launching a new program geared toward “underprivileged, underrepresented and under-served communities” across the country, including Delaware, it was pretty exciting. Imagine the resources Amazon could bring to some of our schools serving underprivileged youth?

The Amazon Future Engineer program (AFE) will include Amazon-funded Introductory and Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses to help students learn skills Amazon looks for in employees, and prepare them to join the tech workforce in general.

“At Amazon right now we’re really focused on making sure that all children and young adults have the resources and skills they need to build their best future,” said Allison Flicker, Amazon STEM Ambassador, in an interview with Technical.ly. “What we’re working to do is to increase access to over 10 million students across the country to a computer science education.

“We are laser-focused on making sure that we provide access for all, so really focusing on students from underprivileged, underrepresented, under-served communities who would not otherwise have a chance to have this kind of education,” she continued.

The big question was, of course, which schools in Delaware are on board so far? I asked, but didn’t receive the specific information until after the interview was over. The answer?

Newark Charter School.

A school that ACLU Delaware said, in a filed complaint to the Office of Civil Rights “Regarding Charter Schools and the Segregation of Delaware’s Public Schools in Violation of Title VI and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,” “has created structural barriers to the admission of students of color and students with disabilities, and, despite evidence of underrepresentation of these groups, have inadequately taken diversity into account in their admissions and outreach practices.”

The school that forced a veto of a bill that would expand the school’s preference zone — but only if it specifically excluded students from Wilmington, literally blocking at-risk Black and Latino teens from access to their publicly funded high achievement school.

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Newark Charter’s percentage of low income students is about 8 percent, according to the U.S. News education database. Stats for other public schools’ economically disadvantaged students, in comparison:

  • Penn: 34%
  • McKean: 48%
  • Alexis I. duPont: 37%
  • Christiana: 37%
  • Glasgow: 38%
  • Howard: 46%
  • Brandywine: 31%
  • Dickinson: 46%
  • Dover: 43%
  • Seaford: 48%

By partnering first with Newark Charter, it doesn’t really seem like the AFE program is “laser-focused” on underprivileged kids.

There is some good news: The second, initially unnamed organization in Delaware to partner with AFE is Green Beret Project in Dover, the after-school and weekend program for at-risk youth. Still, considering that the program is meant to be a long-term education pathway, including AP classes, it’s meant to be in schools.

Flicker says Amazon wants many more schools to apply — so if you’re connected to a Delaware school or organization that serves underprivileged kids, you can apply for the program here.

Companies: Amazon
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