Leaders across the technology industry recognise that there are significant disparities in the gender, socio-economic background, and racial makeup of computer science professionals. The complex interplay of dynamics leading to this state indicates the need for a multi-pronged approach by different agencies to solve the issue.
As a starting point to help bridge opportunity gaps, Microsoft is injecting US$75 million over the next three years into its initiative YouthSpark, which works on supporting all youth to have the opportunity to learn computer science.
On 20 April 2016, Microsoft YouthSpark unveiled 100 nonprofits that will receive funding for computer science training programmes, grants, and partnerships.
Here are four things to know about it.
- Microsoft wants all youth to get a shot at computer science training, and it’s not just about getting jobs
Computer skills empower young people to compete in the global marketplace and access more opportunities. In the United States alone, it’s estimated that by 2022, there will be 1.4 million new computing jobs. In addition, there are broad benefits from learning computer science. The subject teaches computational thinking and problem-solving, which are useful in any job and constitute a crucial life skill.
- Youth in 55 countries will stand to benefit
About 100 nonprofits, at least at this stage, from countries across the world will be using the funds for programmes and grants. Click here to see the complete list.
- One-fifth of the recipient organisations are in Asia-Pacific
Youth in countries from New Zealand to the Philippines should watch out for the slew of opportunities heading their way. Here are the organisations to follow:
Australian Business and Community Network
Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa
Junior Achievement Indonesia
High Tech Youth Network (Htyn)
Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust
Persatuan Kebajikan Generasi Gemilang
Adaptive Technology for Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of the Visually Impaired
Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation Inc.
Republic of Korea
Midam Scholarship Foundation
National Council for Child and Youth Development
Center for Education and Development (CED)
Kenan Institute Asia
Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Vietnet Information Technology and Communication Center
- This is just the tip of the iceberg
This announcement is just part of the plans slated for the three-year investment. Other plans in the pipeline include:
- Enhancement of free resource library Microsoft Imagine, which provides coding tutorials, and software and development tools (such as Touch Develop and Visual Studio Code) for children, families and teachers.
- Enhancement of YouthSpark Hub, a portal linking to various YouthSpark news and activities, such as DigiGirlz (an initiative focused on reaching out to girls and women), YouthSpark Live (YouthSpark events), YouthSpark Camps (coding classes) at the Microsoft Stores, and training by YouthSpark partners around the globe.
Want to learn more about YouthSpark and the resource to get started into computer science? Click here.