Amazon dollars might be coming to Philly as part of $300M STEM education push - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 27, 2017 12:43 pm

Amazon dollars might be coming to Philly as part of $300M STEM education push

The Trump administration announced a $200 million federal grant program aimed at computer education. Tech companies, Amazon among them, followed up with another $300 million.

Kids coding at the Fishtown Rec Center, one of the sites where nonprofit Coded by Kids runs its slate of programs.

(Photo by Roberto Torres)

No matter where its second headquarters ends up getting built, Amazon might be dropping some money in Philly.

The Seattle-based company joined the likes of Facebook, Microsoft, Salesforce and Google in pledging $50 million (each) to a $300 fund aimed at creating K-12 computer science programs.

The fund is a follow-up to an initiative from the Trump administration, led by first daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. On Monday, President Donald Trump directed the U.S. Department of Education to direct $200 million of its grant funds available to STEM and computer science education initiatives.

The announcement struck a good chord with Bob Moul, the Philly tech exec who recently dropped most his volunteer activity to focus on #TEaCH, an initiative to make computer science education part of the core curriculum in the K-12 ecosystem.

“Politics aside, you have to commend the administration for taking action on computer science education in our K12 schools with the aim that ‘every student across the country, from our rural communities to our inner cities,’ has access to education to prepare them for jobs in the digital economy,” said Moul. “I couldn’t agree more.”

Moul said the funds could be “incredibly helpful” to the efforts already underway in Philly to include tech education to the core curriculum.

“An amazing group of people in the Philadelphia STEM Ecosystem have been hard at work to develop and launch ‘CS for Philly’ which will happen the first week of December,” said Moul. “We’d love to have Ivanka join us, tour a few of our schools like TECH Freire and MaST Community, and talk about how we can maximize the impact of this program for all K12 students in Philly.”

TechGirlz founder Tracey Welson-Rossman — often critical of Trump — welcomed the announcement, with one caveat:

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“I am always happy to see a financial interest taken by business and the government to increase the amount of tech education,” said Welson-Rossman. “On a selfish note, I hope to see the money not just concentrated in a few of the larger players in the space, but to groups like TechGirlz, who are creating change within specific demographic groups.”

Per the New York Times, The funds will be disbursed in a five-year period, and proposals focusing on girls and students from minority backgrounds will be favored.

Let’s hear your pitches, Philly schools.

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Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Technical.ly Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to Technical.ly and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

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