Salesforce.com pledges $6m for computer science education in schools

Salesforce.com has stepped up its efforts to support the next wave of computer scientists by plunging $6 million [£3.7 million] into education in its home city of San Francisco.

Related: Two thirds of primary school parents have no idea about computer science curriculum

The firm gifted $5 million [£3 million] to the city’s public schools and the remaining $1 million [£610,000] went to Code.org so that it can use it to provide computer science education in the future.

“We’re really doubling down on what we learned in our first year of creating digital classrooms and we’re really focusing on computer science,” Salesforce.com Foundation President Suzanne DiBianca told Tech Crunch.

Breaking the donation down, $2 million [£1.23 million] has been earmarked for the Principal Innovation Fund that means school administrators can spend the money in any way they want without being questioned.

The remaining $3 million [£1.84 million] is being spent on funding full-time technology instructors and providing support for 50 “digital classrooms” that come complete with laptops as standard. In addition, 100 teachers will be put through professional development programmes to arm them with knowledge on computer science and technology use in the classroom.

Salesforce.com making the investment means that computer science becomes an elective subject for all middle school pupils and students are free to choose it as a module of study as opposed to it being limited to an after school offering.

“I’m still pushing for computer science to be added to the common core,” DiBianca said. “Some really large districts are shifting toward realizing that computer science is a really important skill and that they need to start teaching it at school.”

Salesforce.com employs a “1-1-1” model that sees one per cent of its equity go to its foundation, one per cent of its employees’ time given as community service and one per cent of its product donated.

So far there have been 5,000 employee hours committed to volunteering in San Francisco’s middle schools that includes mentoring, tutorship or chaperoning on field trips, with an additional 2,000 backpacks being packed for children.

Related: KPMG and Rackspace open Science to Data Science school to fill data scientist black hole

Work to boost computer science uptake is something that is already underway in the UK after the government added a new computing curriculum for primary school children this year as part of an effort to educate technology workers of the future with both sides of the Atlantic working hard to ensure computer science is taken seriously.

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