Amazon donates $3 million to Puget Sound area community college computer science programs

Amazon is donating $3 million to community colleges in the Puget Sound area to support affordable four-year computer science (CS) degree programs for local residents. Bellevue College and Seattle Colleges will each receive $1.5 million to expand their higher education opportunities in computer science, with a focus on local students from backgrounds and communities historically underrepresented in technology fields. The degree programs will help create a pathway for these students to build a career in the industry.

The Washington state legislature passed a bill last year, with advocacy from Amazon, to allow local community and technical colleges to offer four-year computer science degrees. With new donations from Amazon, Bellevue College and Seattle Colleges will be able to launch or expand these programs by hiring more faculty and increasing capacity to graduate even more area students.

“Engineering and computer science are two of the most in-demand career fields in the United States, and it’s critical that there are enough skilled workers who represent our diverse communities to fill these roles,” said Victor Reinoso. , global director of philanthropic education at Amazon. initiatives. “We are committed to building a diverse pool of technology students in the Puget Sound area and hiring this local talent to help keep this area strong in the years to come.”

Bellevue College will use the funding to help expand its existing computer science program to serve 60% more students. The scholarship will also support students with financial or technical aid, especially those from underrepresented populations.

Seattle Colleges will use Amazon’s $1.5 million grant to help hire faculty, double the program’s capacity to serve local students interested in computer science, and recruit local high school students. This investment is in addition to Amazon’s donation of $1 million in 2021 to help launch the bachelor’s degree in computer science program at North Seattle College, one of three Seattle Colleges campuses.

“Since we launched the Bachelor of Computer Science in 2017, it has proven to be a hugely successful route for our diverse communities to gain the skills and experience for this high-paying, high-demand field,” said Gary Locke of Bellevue College. interim president. “The expansion of our computer science program, including increased financial support for enrollees and outreach to K-12 students, means great opportunities for even more students. We are very grateful to Amazon for making this substantial contribution to their success.

Bellevue College is the largest open-access institution of higher learning in the state and enrolls more than 27,000 students each year. Seattle Colleges includes five specialty training centers in addition to its three campuses that all serve Seattle and surrounding communities.

Victor Reinoso, global director of philanthropic education initiatives at Amazon, announced Amazon’s $1.5 million donation to the Seattle Colleges computer science degree program at the Momentum “Equity Can’t Wait” gala. school.

“Seattle Colleges has played an important role in training and developing our region’s workforce for decades,” added Dr. Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, acting chancellor of Seattle Colleges. “As an institution serving this tech-driven community, we understand the value of computing and STEM education. It’s only fitting that a leading tech company like Amazon invests in its own back We are grateful for Amazon’s commitment to our students and faculty, and proud to be their partner.

According to the association Code.org, which ensures that all students have access to computer science education, more than 21,000 computer science jobs are open in Washington State, with an average salary of $112,000. In 2021, the number of job openings requiring STEM degrees was about three times higher than the number of prepared graduates in the state.

Even though computer science is a rapidly growing field, the opportunities to acquire fundamental computer skills are inequitable. For example, of the 1,883 computer science degrees awarded in Washington State in the 2018-2019 academic year, only 3.8% were awarded to black students, 5.6% to Latino students, and less than 1% to Native American students, according to statistics cited in state law passed last year.

“We must continue to expand access to computer science degrees for all Washingtonians and the career opportunities that follow,” said Rep. Vandana Slatter, chair of the House College and Workforce Development Committee of the U.S. Legislature. ‘State. “I thank Amazon for this donation that is helping to create and grow computer science programs at Bellevue College and Seattle Colleges that will serve more low-income and underrepresented students.”

Amazon is also donating $5 million to the University of Washington to help build a new Interdisciplinary Engineering Building at its Seattle campus. The new facility will help the college meet the growing demand for engineering degrees and provide support services to engineering students from historically underrepresented communities. Since 2009, the university has nearly doubled the number of engineering degrees awarded to undergraduate and graduate students.

Alice Shobe stands behind a podium as she addresses a crowd and announces Amazon's $5 million donation to the University of Washington's Interdisciplinary Engineering Building during the groundbreaking ceremony .
Alice Shobe, Amazon’s Global Community Director, announced Amazon’s $5 million donation to the University of Washington’s Interdisciplinary Engineering Building during the groundbreaking ceremony.

These donations build on Amazon’s efforts to create pathways to success for high school students, college students, and interested adults. Through Engineer of the future Amazon, the company’s global computer science education philanthropic program, Amazon aims to bridge the gap between interested students and available CS courses and opportunities. In Washington State, Amazon Future Engineer supports nearly 300 schools by funding high-quality computer science programs, robotics clubs, professional learning for educators, and offering career talks.

Additionally, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has partnered with the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to enable more than 2,000 Washington State high school students to earn select IT certifications for free before to graduate. In 2021, Amazon opened the AWS Skills Center in Seattle, a free training center where people can learn more about cloud computing by participating in interactive exhibits, take free basic classroom cloud training, and participate at local business events.

Learn more on Amazon community efforts.

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