Jan. 29, 2019 By Nathaly Pesantez
Several high schools in Long Island City and Astoria will soon begin to offer computer sciences courses as part of a new citywide effort launched by Amazon, the tech giant with controversial plans to build a new campus in the area.
The company announced today that students in 132 high schools across the five boroughs, including 11 schools in Astoria and Long Island City, will have access to introductory and Advanced Placement Computer Science courses by the fall through its ‘Future Engineer’ education program.
Amazon, by way of its program, will help fund courses devised by Edhesive, a New York-based STEM curriculum provider, in the selected schools, some of which already offer some type of computer science classes.
“We want to help make sure more children across New York City gain the coding skills necessary to have successful careers in many fields,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO, in a statement.
The company noted in its announcement that its Future Engineer program, founded in November, is aimed at making computer science available to students in underrepresented and underserved communities nationwide.
The full-year curriculum includes preparatory lessons and tutorials, with professional development options available for teachers as well. Live online support is also available seven days a week for students and teachers.
Students will also be able to access Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure for their coding projects and more with free membership to AWS Educate, an Amazon program.
The company’s New York City initiative covers 37 schools in Queens—the most out of any borough—branching into neighborhoods like Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Forest Hills and beyond. The Bronx and Manhattan will see 27 high schools under the program, with 35 in Brooklyn and 6 in Staten Island.
The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens, one of the schools under the program, said its students will learn skills that are important and valuable in today’s economy.
“Amazon is helping fill a major gap in our curriculum that will help young people acquire the skills to build rewarding careers, while boosting prospects for our local community overall,” said George Diaz, the Jamaica’s school’s assistant principal.
Today’s announcement comes in the midst of Amazon’s campaign to get New Yorkers behind its plan to build a 4 million square foot campus at Anable Basin in Long Island City.
The city and state have also embarked on a separate outreach effort, presenting on the many facets of the project and benefits to western Queens and beyond in a series of community meetings over the past several weeks.
The trillion-dollar company’s plan has been met with much controversy by locals, elected officials, and advocacy groups since the official campus announcement was made in November. Criticism has targeted several facets of the project, including the negotiations and deal the company cut with the state and city, the project’s impact on New York City infrastructure and housing and the company’s track record.
Many have also questioned the city, state, and Amazon’s investments into making sure that the bulk of the 25,000 jobs at the future Long Island City campus go to locals, especially of underrepresented backgrounds. The tech giant, in its education initiative, appears to respond to part of these concerns.
The Amazon Future Engineer initiative also follows a city announcement made yesterday that said the administration would offer micro grants to workforce development organizations that can propose programs aimed at training and hire underrepresented New Yorkers in tech and other in-demand sectors.
List of participating schools in Astoria and Long Island City. To see the full list of participating schools, click here.
Academy For Careers In Television And Film
Academy of Finance and Enterprise
Energy Tech High School
Evangel Christian School
Frank Sinatra School Of The Arts High School
Information Technology High School
Robert F Wagner Secondary School For Arts And Technology
St Demetrios School
St Johns Preparatory School
The Young Women’s Leadership School Of Astoria
William Cullen Bryant High School