Tech for All: A Corporate Funder Doubles Down on Computer Science Education

Last week, Microsoft announced that it would renew its commitment to computer science education to the tune of $75 million. As part of its Youthspark program, launched in 2012 with an initial $500 million in funding, this new round of funding will allow Microsoft to expand grants and programs to improve access to computer science education and build computational thinking skills for underserved youth over the next three years.

The Microsoft announcement comes on the heels of growing concern over the inability of traditional K-12 education models to keep up with an increasingly digital world. Last week, we told you about a new education policy think tank, the Learning Institute, which is developing national strategies to adapt K-12 education to our ever-evolving knowledge-based society. And just a few days ago, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced the Computer Science For All initiative—an $81 million effort to bring computer science classes to every school in New York City by 2025, funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, AOL Charitable Foundation, and the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education.

Additionally, we've reported on a wide array of recent philanthropic efforts to draw more students of color and girls into STEM areas—and provide the support they often need to stick with such studies. If you're looking for STEM money, it helps big-time to think about training tomorrow's increasingly diverse workforce. 


For its part, Microsoft has zeroed in on a few specific areas where it believes it can help modernize K-12 education in the U.S., including its TEALS program—short for Technology Education and Literacy in Schools. TEALS pairs tech professionals with educators to team-teach computer science in U.S. high schools. With this new funding, Microsoft hopes to grow TEALS fivefold, with the goal of reaching 30,000 students in 700 schools across 33 states. An important element of TEAL is training teachers to teach computer science independently after two years of team-teaching.

Looking beyond the United States, Microsoft also hopes to expand its computer literacy programs to students in underdeveloped countries, setting them up with skills today for tomorrow’s jobs. Through its global philanthropic investment program, Microsoft has partnered with nonprofits in 80 countries around the world to deliver a range of digital literacy education programs including Microsoft Imagine—a program designed to make coding easy and accessible for students and educators, no matter their age or skill level, and at no cost.

Microsoft estimates that since 2012, YouthSpark has already created new opportunities for more than 300 million youth around the world, offering technology skills training and connections to employment, entrepreneurship, and continued education or training.

Related: How this Tech Giant is Helping Disadvantaged Youth Build Skills for the Global Economy