Code.org, a Seattle-based non-profit that promotes computer science education around the world, secured a $15 million donation from Facebook, to be collected over the next five years. The funds will go toward training educators, across the country, in computer science, focusing on low-income and urban school districts, according to Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi.
“I met with Maxine Williams, Facebook’s head of diversity, and explained to her how we’re addressing the diversity problem in K-12 computer science,” Partovi told GeekWire. “We talked about how it’s mathematically impossible to balance a tech workforce when the education pipeline is so un-diverse, and that we have the best approach to address the issue.”
The donation comes on the heels of “Computer Science for All,” an initiative led by the Obama administration to encourage diversity in K-12 computer science education.
In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were part of a $23 million donation to Code.org, to train 25,000 public school teachers in computer science each year. Microsoft, Infosys, Google, and several others also participated in the donation.
The donation, and an accompanying open letter to Congress, were organized by the Computer Science Coalition, which lobbies for K-12 computer science funding. Facebook, Code.org, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft were among 43 companies that formed the coalition in March.
Code.org has a history of working with tech companies to teach coding skills to underrepresented groups around the country. The non-profit partnered with Microsoft, for example, to use the software giant’s popular game, Minecraft, as a teaching tool.
Diversity is an ongoing challenge for the technology industry, which as historically been dominated by white men. Code.org aims to tackle that problem at the source, by encouraging women and students of color to learn coding skills at an early age.
“The opportunity to learn computer science shouldn’t depend on your neighborhood, your gender, or the color of your skin,” said Partovi. “Code.org is privileged to be part of a teacher-powered movement that’s changing U.S. education at an unprecedented scale, impacting millions of students in tens of thousands of classrooms. We are incredibly grateful to partner with Facebook to change the face of diversity in K-12 computer science.”