Microsoft Boosts STEM Ed Investment

Microsoft is backing two STEM education nonprofits to the tune of $500,000: Black Girls Code and the Technology Access Foundation.

According to Microsoft, the company is partnering with Black Girls Code to "help them establish a Seattle chapter to introduce programming and technology to young and pre-teen girls of color through clubs led by women engineers of color." That group is in 13 other U.S. cities already and operates a range of activities, from hackathons and coding and robotics workshops to summer camps, film screenings and community meet-ups.

Microsoft already had a partnership with Technology Access Fund, which operates in the state of Washington, but is expanding that partnership with an investment in STEMbyTAF. According to Microsoft: "Initially an out-of-school program offering technology skills training, internships and college prep to students of color in Seattle, TAF has since opened its own school and become a sought-after expert on how to create learning environments that eliminate race-based disparity in academic achievement. STEMbyTAF is designed to help replicate their successful strategies at other area schools."

"The partnerships build on Microsoft's long-term commitment and responsibility to help ensure every young person has access to computer science education, from all gender, racial, ethnic, geographic and income backgrounds," Mary Snapp, corporate vice president and lead for Microsoft Philanthropies, wrote in a blog post this week. "While we are proud of our long-term investments in our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program and in Code.org, along with many other vital partners, we know there is still more we have to do to bridge the gaps in equity in the field of technology. Despite the increase in access of computer science education in schools across America, significant gender and racial gaps remain between which students participate in high school computer science courses. Last year, only 5 percent of AP Computer Science test takers were African-America,n and only one-quarter were young women. At the same time, we face a STEM pipeline crisis where our workforce needs are growing at an accelerating pace."

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).