Amazon Donates $15 Million to Code.org to Create New Equity-Minded Advanced Placement Computer Science Curriculum to Help High School Students in Underserved Communities Excel in Tech
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced a $15 million donation from Amazon Future Engineer to nonprofit Code.org to support the development and launch of a new equity-minded Advanced Placement computer science programming curriculum. The new curriculum will teach students the same tools and concepts as the existing AP Computer Science A (AP CSA) course, and it will be built inclusively to take into account the unique cultural perspectives, interests, and experiences of Black, Latino, Native American (BLNA), and other minority students. By using a research-backed and culturally responsive approach to teaching in the curriculum, Code.org and Amazon Future Engineer hope to increase equitable access, participation, and achievement in computer science (CS) among high school students of all backgrounds and encourage more BLNA students to pursue careers in engineering.
For many students, taking AP CSA is an opportunity to earn a college credit equal to a first semester college CS course—a critical step in a student’s CS journey for long-term success. For example, Black students who take the AP CSA course are seven times more likely to study CS in college, according to the College Board, which administers the AP program. However, while Black students made up 15% of the U.S. student body in 2020, they comprised only 3.5% of exam takers—down from 3.9% in 2019 and largely flat for the years prior. Additionally, only 14% of the 70,000 students who took the AP CSA exam in 2020 were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups* and only 25% of students identified as female, according to Code.org.
To make AP CSA more equitable and accessible to all, Code.org will design the new curriculum to incorporate students’ diverse interests and experiences into CS concepts. The goal is to empower students to investigate real-world concerns during class activities. Additionally, open-ended projects will enable students to demonstrate mastery of concepts that make no assumptions about their cultural backgrounds or life experiences. Students will also develop and model valuable, real-world career skills, such as conducting code reviews, tracing code segments, reading documentation, and writing code, with both the user and other developers in mind. Through firsthand experiences, students will ultimately be able to envision themselves as capable software engineers.
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