Microsoft computers and software have long had a presence in many K – 12 classrooms across the country. In the last few years, Microsoft has begun plans to increase their involvement in schools to work on boosting computer science itself. In particular, the company recently announced a three-year plan to spend $75 million on initiatives to promote computer science (CS) access in schools.

The main goals of the program are to increase the number of CS graduates and the diversity of talent trained in the industry. It is viewed as an important step in closing the CS gap, in other words in addressing the deficiency of CS access and CS graduates that has existed in some schools in the past. By increasing CS access and excitement, the hope is that students around the world may gain valuable opportunities in the expanding world of CS.

Microsoft’s plans are an expansion of a program called YouthSpark that was launched three years ago.  Microsoft’s website describes YouthSpark as a global initiative to increase access for youth to learn CS. The worldwide initiative will include making donations to nonprofit organizations and providing them with other resources to boost CS access.

Microsoft engineers will also partner with teachers in some schools in the US to help teach CS, as part of the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools program (TEALS). The goal of TEALS was recently reported to be to reach 700 high schools in the next three years and four thousand over the next decade, and to have a focus on urban and rural areas to increase diversity of CS graduates.

These CS programs are also coinciding with plans that have recently been set for public schools in some major cities. New York, Chicago, and San Francisco each have made plans to more fully integrate CS in their schools within the next decade.

With goals set as high as these and the amount of resources Microsoft is investing, it will be interesting to see how much progress can be made in computer science access in the coming years.


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