Written by Virginia Gordon for MichiganRadio.org

Original story published September 27, 2017 on MichiganRadio.org. Click here to view the original story.

Some of the country’s largest companies today announced a commitment of more than $300 million to K-12 computer science education nationwide. The money will be disbursed over a five-year period.

First daughter and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump joined senior officials of donor companies in Detroit for the announcement.

According to the Internet Association, a trade association of leading global internet companies and organizer of today’s event, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Salesforce have each committed $50 million. Lockheed Martin has committed $25 million. Accenture, General Motors, and Pluralsight have each committed $10 million.

The goal of the donations is to teach students the skills needed for the digital economy.

“Knowing computer science, knowing how to code, is really foundational toward success in any industry — not just tech narrowly defined,” said Trump.

“Right now, less than half of American schools have even a single computer science course,” Trump said. “So we have to do better.”

The private money will complement public funds for computer science education announced yesterday by the White House.  A Presidential Memorandum directed the secretary of education to “establish a goal of devoting at least $200 million per year in grant funds” toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, with a particular focus on computer science. But the memorandum does not require that the money go to computer science education or to K-12.

If a total public and private annual contribution of $260 million were to be distributed for K-12 computer science education, that would amount to a little more than $5 per year for each of the nation’s 50.7 million public school children.

One goal of both the private and pubic funds is to increase access to computer science education for historically underserved groups, including women and people of color.

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