WASHINGTON — With schools and public libraries closed, students are relying on technology more than ever before. Amazon recently announced they donated millions of dollars to help expand virtual resources and training in schools across Virginia, including Northern Virginia.
It is the new reality of learning in the age of COVID-19, but for some students in underserved communities, limited access to the internet makes success at school nearly impossible.
On Tuesday, Virginia's First Lady Pamela Northam, who also is the chair of the Virginia STEM Education Commission, made a big announcement. Amazon donated $3.9 million to CodeVA for computer science education.
"We want to make sure we are reaching every student, because we know all students are important in this endeavor," Northam said.
The money goes toward training for 12,000 teachers in more than 700 communities across Virginia.
"Now more than ever, we see the importance of staying connected virtually and using those technologies," Northam said.
The donations impact nearly 500,000 students with the goal of inspiring the next generation to pursue a career in STEM careers.
Currently, only 26 percent of computer scientists are women. That number drops to 13 percent of women who work in engineering fields. Northam said she hopes this new program can start to change that.
"I think that is really important, as we begin those early years, that we extend the architecture for all future learning -- that we start with them and help them really to grow the brains for the future and for those future jobs," Northam said.
CodeVA has been using part of the donation to provide virtual computer science curriculum and training to tens of thousands of teachers and students throughout Virginia who are now learning from home for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19.
Teachers can apply right now for the free virtual training and online tools. They have already started to receive applications from school districts, including in the Northern Virginia area.