Amazon just announced a significant investment in computer science education for students in the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD) and Rialto Unified School District (RUSD), through its Amazon Future Engineer program. Over 5,100 students in the Inland Empire will be impacted, as part of the company’s commitment to invest more than $25 million annually to increase student access to computer science opportunities nationwide.
Victor Reinoso, Global Director of Philanthropic Education Initiative at Amazon, highlighted the company’s dedication to increasing access to computer science education, particularly in Title 1 schools. Title 1 schools are federally designated schools with a high concentration of students eligible for free or reduced lunch. Amazon seeks to work with districts that prioritize computer science education, focusing on schools that serve students from underserved and historically underrepresented communities.
Amazon Future Engineer increases student access to computer science education in three ways:
- Funds high-quality computer science curriculum and educator professional learning to help school districts implement sustainable K–12 computer science initiatives. As part of this effort, Amazon funds the development of customized curriculum that accounts for the unique cultural perspectives, interests, and experiences of Black, Latino, Native American (BLNA) students. For instance, Amazon Future Engineer committed $2.25 million to support Indigenous schools in accessing culturally responsive computer science curriculums.
- Offers virtual class chats, career tours, and project-based learning modules that bring role models to classrooms to help students explore computer science through real-world experiences.
- Provides college scholarships, paid internships, and industry mentors, so students can conceptualize their path forward in the industry.
Reinoso emphasized that computer science skills are foundational for many future careers, particularly those in the STEM field. With a high concentration of careers in STEM and increased earning potential for those in computer science, Amazon believes that equipping students with these skills will enable them to thrive in any career they pursue.
To inspire students to consider various career paths and broaden their horizons, Amazon offers career tours on their website, amazonfutureengineer.com. These tours showcase a range of careers, from transportation and logistics to robotics and AI, data science, and roles in Amazon Prime Video. Reinoso stated that it is less about the opportunities at Amazon and more about inspiring students to explore new possibilities and achieve success in their education and careers.
The Amazon Future Engineer program focuses on three key aspects of computer science education: funding high-quality computer science curriculums, providing virtual class chats and career tours, and offering college scholarships, paid internships, and industry mentors. This academic year, Amazon will award $16 million in college scholarships and industry internship offers to 400 U.S.-based high school seniors pursuing degrees in computer science or engineering. Since the program’s launch in 2019, Amazon has awarded over $22 million in scholarships.
Reinoso emphasized Amazon’s long-term commitment to building strong communities, stating, “Our interest is to help build strong communities now and in future generations in the communities that we serve. We have an immense amount of confidence in the potential of future generations. Lots of problems that exist in the world can be solved from critical thinking that comes from computer science education. It’s a long-term investment in these communities. We want residents in communities to thrive over the long term.”
By investing in SBCUSD and RUSD, Amazon aims to create a lasting positive impact on students in the Inland Empire. The company is dedicated to providing ongoing support and resources to teachers, students, and families in these districts, ensuring that they have the necessary tools to succeed in an increasingly technology-driven world.