Online retailer Amazon has announced the launch of a comprehensive initiative designed to inspire children and young adults from underserved and low-income communities to pursue a career in computer science.
To that end, the Amazon Future Engineer program will fund introductory and Advanced Placement courses for more than a hundred thousand underprivileged young people in two thousand low-income high schools across the United States. In addition, the company will provide a hundred scholarships of $40,000 over four years to students from underserved communities to pursue a degree in computer science, as well as guaranteed internships at Amazon.
At the elementary and middle school level (K-8), Amazon will support free and inclusive online computer science lessons and camps through partnerships with organizations such as Code.org and Coding with Kids, providing underprivileged students in hundreds of communities across the U.S. an opportunity to discover the potential of coding in an interactive, hands-on environment. At the high school level (9-12), Amazon will provide funding so that schools — especially rural and low-income Title I schools — can offer AP and introduction to computer science courses as well as expand access to high-quality preparatory courses, curricular resources, and programs designed to help prepare and propel students into advanced computer science education.
Young people who have successfully completed an AP computer science course and are pursuing a computer science degree at an accredited four-year university will be eligible for four-year Amazon Scholar college scholarships, while first-year college students who receive a scholarship from Amazon will be eligible for a paid software development internship at the company, enabling them to work with a technical mentor and manager as well as other interns on new features and services for Amazon customers.
"Among black and Hispanic students, those who take AP Computer Science in high school are up to eight times more likely to take computer science in college, and among women, they are ten times more likely to do so — yet most high schools don't offer these courses," said Jeff Wilke, CEO, Worldwide Consumer at Amazon. "Computer science skills are some of the most in-demand in the modern economy, and we have created Amazon Future Engineer because we believe young people from all backgrounds should have help...[to realize] a future in this highly paid, rapidly growing field."