A studio that is synonymous with the region’s influential role in video game development contributed $100,000 so that a Baltimore computer science education nonprofit can expand digital equity work that has become increasingly important during the pandemic.
Code in the Schools received a $100,000 charitable donation from Firaxis Game Studio, the Sparks studio launched by computer gaming legend Sid Meier that developed series such as Civilization and XCOM.
“Code in the Schools serves a vital role in the Baltimore community in preparing the next generation of technology leaders. We’re happy to give in support of their mission,” said Firaxis Games Studio Head Steve Martin in a statement.
The donation comes as the digital divide in Baltimore has become more pronounced at a time when school buildings are closed, and access to technology is necessary to continue learning. To put the issue in perspective: A new report from the Abell Foundation this month found that 96,000 households in the city lack wireline internet access, and 75,000 lack a laptop or desktop computer.
It means CITS’ work to increase tech education access also includes ensuring students are equipped to learn.
“The work that we do at Code in the Schools to expand computer science education is impossible without computers and internet connection,” CITS CEO Gretchen LeGrand said in a statement. “We’ve known that there were enormous inequities among students who don’t have access to those things at home, but the crisis created by the pandemic has brought this issue to light in a way that our society can no longer ignore.”
Along with moving courses like intro to computer science and game development online, the nonprofit is working to ensure students have device and internet access by collecting and refurbishing devices.
There is a digital divide in Baltimore City for students. 40% of families in Baltimore do not have access to the internet and computers for distance learning. We are working to change that number. Donate equipment or dollars today to be apart of closing this divide! 👆link in bio pic.twitter.com/sMp4d5Ivas
— Code in the Schools (@CodeintheSchool) May 14, 2020
The Station North-based nonprofit is one of 50 organizations that are part of the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition, which is coordinating efforts on devices, broadband and digital skills.
It is also involved in a move to take the city’s summer jobs program YouthWorks virtual. The funding will help to ensure that youth in its summer CodeWorks program have digital access. CITS is also working with other Baltimore organizations to provide wraparound tech support to run virtual programs, said COO Dianne Conley, including devices, internet connectivity, professional development and computer science content.
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