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Closing the Access Gap: One Year of Computer Science for All in New York City

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

One year ago, CSNYC and the City of New York announced Computer Science for All (#CS4All), an ambitious ten-year, $80 million public-private partnership to provide computer science (CS) to all 1.1 million students in NYC public schools. CS4All is the largest expansion of computer science to public schools in the country, serving a K-12 population more than twice the size of Chicago’s in ten times as many schools as San Francisco.

Now in its first year of implementation, CS4All programs are being offered in 250 elementary, middle and high schools across the city—15 percent of the city’s 1,700 schools. 

More than 450 teachers are receiving rigorous training in computer science instruction, with programs ranging from intensive middle and high school courses to introductory explorations of computer science across the K-12 curriculum. “The growth and excitement we have seen for this effort is indicative of the desire our students and communities have to learn,” said Michael Preston, executive director of CSNYC. Community support for high quality computer science education for all students is evident in the successful fundraising CSNYC has overseen in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Fund for Public Schools. CS4All reached the critical milestone of raising half of its $40 million private sector commitment in its first year, including new and significant support from Math for America (MƒA). All private funding is matched equally by public funding from the city. CS4All is administered by the NYC Department of Education with support and oversight from the city and a group of private donors led by CSNYC.

“We want to ensure that every student in New York City receives early and equitable access to computer science, a new basic literacy that has broad implications for our society and economy in the 21st century,” said Preston. “By offering CS to all students, CS4All is designed to expand access to computer science and technology pathways, with the explicit intention of driving participation among traditionally underrepresented groups including girls, black and Latino students, and students from low-income families. Not every student will go into the tech workforce, but all students should have the opportunity to learn and to decide for themselves if they are interested.”

“We are proud that many teachers already involved in the CS4All initiative come from the MƒA community,” said John Ewing, president of Math for America. “But our $2.5M donation to CS4All is made on behalf of all teachers who want the opportunity to become involved in the exciting field of computer science. Teachers need to be partners—to have a voice—in this initiative if we want it to succeed.” MƒA focuses on excellence in teaching in order to inspire great teachers to stay in the classroom and change the perception of the profession. A number of MƒA’s community of more than 1,000 teachers are at the forefront of CS4All.

New York City’s technology sector grew by 300,000 jobs between 2007 and 2014, a rate of 57 percent over that time frame—higher than any other sector in the city. Currently, most of these jobs are filled by talent that comes from other places.

“Exposure to technology and a STEM education enhances students’ worlds. At Yext, we are proud to be part of the work CS4All is doing to establish New York City as the premiere city for the knowledge economy. The impact it will have on the tech talent pool in NYC is limitless," said Howard Lerman, Yext co-founder & CEO.

"The Mayor’s vision for New York City schools will put a new generation on the path toward success,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. “Through this landmark public-private partnership, we will level the playing field for every student in every borough. Computer Science for All is an investment in creating opportunities for all of our young people, particularly in a global economy where technology is integral to every industry.”