Amazon has announced a $2 million total donation to two Washington nonprofit organizations working to make STEM and computer science education more accessible, equitable, and meaningful for hundreds of thousands of Washington State students, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities. The donation includes $1 million to Washington STEM, a statewide nonprofit organization that advances excellence, innovation and equity in STEM for all Washington students, and $1 million to the Pacific Science Center (PacSci), a nonprofit focused on igniting curiosity and enabling access to science education.
“We are thrilled to support more hard-working, curious students by helping improve equitable access to STEM and computer science education in our home state of Washington,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “We are excited to work with Washington STEM and PacSci – leaders in STEM and computer science education – as they work to create the resources, access, and innovative opportunities Washington students need to build their best futures, from Seattle to Spokane.”
Washington STEM will use the gift to support their work to ensure all students, regardless of skin color, income, or gender, have access to the education and opportunities that will help them thrive in family-wage careers in Washington State. The funds will help fill systems-level gaps—from childhood-to-career—specifically focused on students of color, students from low-income backgrounds, students living in rural areas, and girls and young women.
PacSci will use the gift to grow Science On Wheels (SOW), its flagship outreach program that builds excitement for science, technology, engineering, and math through interactive workshops, live stage shows, and portable exhibits in schools, libraries, and community centers throughout Washington State. PacSci will increase the number of students that SOW serves in low-income Title I schools. PacSci will also add a computer science curriculum to go along with the existing curriculums, which will teach core concepts and key practices in computational thinking.
“By 2030, 70 percent of all Washington jobs offering a family wage will require education beyond high school in the form of certificates, apprenticeships, two-year and four-year degrees. Two-thirds of these jobs will require STEM skills,” said Angela Jones, CEO, Washington STEM. “But when you look at the data, only 40 percent of our state’s youth are on track to obtain the education they’ll need to access these STEM careers. Amazon’s investment will help close the gaps we know exist – create access for students of color, rural students, students from low-income backgrounds, and young women – and help put Washington students on pathways to Washington jobs.”
“Pacific Science Center is committed to providing everyone with access to experiences that cultivate curiosity, discovery, experimentation, and critical thinking,” said Will Daugherty, president and CEO, Pacific Science Center. “Science On Wheels has delivered high-quality science education throughout the state of Washington for almost 50 years. With Amazon’s investment and ongoing partnership, Science On Wheels will have more impact than ever, especially in the schools and communities where resources are most scarce. We look forward to working together to serve students, families, and schools in this region.”
“Giving our students access to a modern STEM education will lead them to rich, successful and meaningful careers in Washington’s modern economy,” said Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island). “I’m grateful to Washington STEM and the Pacific Science Center for providing these educational opportunities and to Amazon for providing funding to help these organizations expand and grow.”
Washington STEM is a statewide nonprofit organization working in partnership with ten regional STEM Networks and statewide partners to increase equitable access to STEM education and opportunity. Washington STEM has a long-term vision of increasing equitable access from childhood-to-career with a focus on students of color, students living in rural areas, and students from low-income backgrounds. Through their Early STEM initiative, Washington STEM is supporting teachers, families, and caregivers in engaging more frequently and directly with children in math – giving students the best start possible in school and life. Through their Career Pathways initiative, Washington STEM is working with business, education, and community partners to expose and prepare students for exciting careers in tech, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, construction, maritime and other high-demand industries in which STEM fuels innovation, economic mobility and job growth.
PacSci’s mission is to ignite curiosity and fuel a passion for discovery, experimentation, and critical thinking. Their award-winning, interactive programs serve nearly 1 million people each year throughout the state of Washington in their communities, in classrooms, at the Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center in Bellevue, and at its seven-acre campus at Seattle Center. PacSci is deeply committed to expanding access to science for traditionally underrepresented and underserved children and families. During the 2018-19 school year, PacSci’s Science On Wheels outreach program served more than 115,000 students in 31 of Washington’s 39 counties. More than 60,000 of these students were in Title I schools in low-income communities.
Amazon is committed to bringing more resources to children and young adults to help them build their best future. Amazon has invested more than $50 million to increase access to computer science/STEM education and has donated more than $20 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country. Amazon’s primary computer science access program, Amazon Future Engineer, is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to try computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire hundreds of thousands of young people to explore computer science; awards dozens of schools Amazon Future Engineer Robotics Grants, provides over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; awards 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offers guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience, and forms unique partnerships with trusted institutions to bring new coding experiences to students. There are currently more than 40 high schools across Washington State that are part of the Amazon Future Engineer high school program, and three Washington State students won our Amazon Future Engineer Scholarship last year. There are more than 30 schools in Washington who received the Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grant.