Amazon.com has announced it is donating $1.75 million toward a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) high school in Onondaga County, New York. With a new robotics fulfillment center coming to the county this fall, a project that will create more than 1,000 local jobs, Amazon is furthering its commitment to STEM education by investing in the community and giving students tools to build their best future. Amazon’s donation will fund robotics and computer science initiatives at the new school.
“At Amazon, technology and innovation fuel our business. Our employees work alongside innovative, advanced technologies, and we recognize the jobs of tomorrow require a stronger aptitude for STEM skills,” said Ryan Smith, director of North America fulfillment operations at Amazon. “We want to inspire the next generation of innovators to explore opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, so we’re proud to partner with Onondaga County–which we will soon call home–to increase access to STEM education for thousands of local students for years to come. We hope they’ll join our team at Amazon one day and teach us a thing or two as they build their careers here.”
The STEAM school project, which is currently being called STEAM at Syracuse Central, is a joint effort from the City of Syracuse, the Syracuse City School District, Onondaga County, and the State of New York. It will be located at the former Central High School near downtown Syracuse.
“This is an exciting day for our community and for the progress on the new STEAM school,” said County Executive Ryan McMahon said. “Last May we welcomed Amazon to Onondaga County with their state-of-the-art robotics fulfillment center. Now they are furthering their commitment and investment in our community and children with this donation to our STEAM school. Preparing our kids for the jobs of tomorrow is a priority for all of us and a belief that Amazon also shares. This donation will go a long way towards making that a reality.”
Syracuse City School District will operate the school, but it will be open to students from any school district in Onondaga County. The school will graduate approximately 250 students a year who are on a career path to fill technology-related jobs in central New York. The campus’ workforce training center will offer high school equivalency degrees, apprenticeships, and advanced technical certification through SUNY Empire State College.
“I applaud Amazon for investing $1.75 million to support robotics and computer science initiatives at the new STEAM School, which is currently being developed in the City of Syracuse,” said U.S. Representative John Katko. “The STEAM school will host educational programming rooted in science, math, and technology and allow students to access apprenticeships, advanced technical trainings, and other crucial workforce development programs. Graduates will be well prepared to enter into highly-skilled careers and help contribute to Central New York’s growing economy. With the ongoing development of the Amazon fulfillment center in Clay, I am glad to see this company make an additional investment to support Central New York students and workforce development programming.”
Last May, Amazon joined County Executive Ryan McMahon to announce the state-of-the-art robotics fulfillment center in Clay, just north of Syracuse, which is anticipated to open in time for the 2021 holiday shopping season. This facility will be the first of its kind in upstate New York and will create more than 1,000 full-time jobs for Onondaga County residents, with competitive pay starting at $15 per hour and comprehensive benefits that begin on an employee’s first day on the job. Employees will work alongside Amazon robotics and innovative technologies to pick, pack, and ship customer orders.
“One of the most compelling points of the STEAM School project is the regional approach we are using. Students from both city and suburban school districts will be prepared for the careers of tomorrow together in a state of the art complex in downtown Syracuse,” said Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “This donation from Amazon is yet another indicator of how much stronger we are when we work together. It also serves as the latest example of how the Syracuse Surge strategy is already working to ensure opportunity for all in our community. I thank Amazon for its support for education in Syracuse and Onondaga County.”
Employees will also have access to Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays up to 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch, more than 30,000 employees have pursued degrees in computer science, game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming, and radiology, to name a few. Amazon has pledged to invest over $700 million to provide upskilling training for 100,000 U.S. employees through 2025. These programs will help Amazon employees from all backgrounds access training to move into highly skilled roles across the company’s corporate offices, tech hubs, fulfillment centers, retail stores, and transportation network, or pursue career paths outside of Amazon.
“We are thrilled to have Amazon on board as a partner in the development of our new regional STEAM High School. Their focus on technology and STEM coupled with their presence in our community makes them the perfect partner for us,” said Superintendent Jaime Alicea. “Robotics is going to be a big part of the curriculum at the STEAM High School and this donation will benefit that initiative greatly.”
Amazon also offers a signature computer science education program called Amazon Future Engineer, designed to inspire and educate young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities. Amazon Future Engineer is a childhood to career program, delivering programming that starts with primary school and continues through secondary education and into careers. It reaches millions of students globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year.
Two schools in Onondaga County currently participate in the Amazon Future Engineer program. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Amazon Future Engineer also awards 100 students each year with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon. The program also celebrates teachers with professional development and $25,000 Teacher of the Year Awards. Amazon Future Engineer is part of Amazon’s $50 million commitment to STEM and computer science education.