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ETR and SCEF Win NSF Grant for Computer Science Education in Santa Cruz

ETR and SCEF Win NSF Grant for Computer Science Education in Santa Cruz

August 24, 2017 – The Santa Cruz City Schools, Santa Cruz Education Foundation (SCEF) and ETR have been awarded a 2-year, $300,000 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to address disparities and bolster computer science education directives in Santa Cruz public schools.

The high number of open technology-related jobs in the U.S. demonstrates the continung importance that computer science (CS) plays in American society. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2024, 1.1 million computing-related jobs in the nation will be vacant.

In the U.S., the disparity between the number of male and female college students graduating with CS degrees continues to grow. Federal data show that while women earn 57% of all undergraduate degrees nationally, they account for only 18% of CS degrees. The numbers for African American and Hispanic students earning CS degrees are dismally similar at 5% and 9% respectively.

The gender gap in CS education starts early on. A study commissioned by Google Inc. found that girls in 7th-12th grade are less likely than boys to:

  • Learn CS in schools.
  • Participate in CS learning outside of school.
  • Have CS role models represented in the media.
  • Be encouraged by teachers and parents to pursue CS.

In each category, boys scored higher on questions designed to determine computer science perceptions, access and learning opportunities.

Gault Elementary Principal Amariah Hernandez is enthusiastic about what the grant will mean for Santa Cruz students. She says, "This computer science grant is a wonderful opportunity for all of our students. We are excited that our students will be given the chance to learn and explore more technology in their classrooms and have direct instruction with 21st century skills. This funding provides access and resources for all students, regardless of their gender, race or socio-economic status. We feel fortunate to be a part of a grant that will support the growth of integrated, diverse skills for our kids."

This vital NSF grant will allow ETR to pursue our vision to increase access to CS education with work in the Santa Cruz public schools, and to better understand and strengthen the CS pathways for all students. The funds will be used to strengthen existing CS activities in elementary and middle school, provide professional development for teachers, engage parents and the broader community, and do research on what works and for whom.

Santa Cruz City Supervisor Ryan Coonerty (3rd District) says, "I'm thrilled that Santa Cruz students are going to gain important computer skills. This is an incredible opportunity for them and a big step in creating a dynamic workforce in our community. I'm particularly glad that this grant will translate into new opportunities for women and students of color, who are underrepresented in the tech industry."

To learn more about the project, please contact Dr. Jill Denner.

Click here to learn more about ETR’s work in increasing diversity in IT.

To learn more about ETR or the topic of this article:

Contact Matt McDowell, Director of Marketing.

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