Intel Looks Back on a Year of Partnership and Progress with OUSD

A little over a year ago, in May 2015, Intel announced a partnership with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to raise student awareness of the opportunities available in computer science and engineering—and to lay the groundwork for further studies in these fields. The partnership was launched as part of Intel’s commitment to growing the pipeline of diverse talent entering STEM-related studies and, ultimately, careers.

From the start, the partnership’s approach has been to focus on four key areas: students, teachers, parents, and community. The five-year partnership is projected to involve 2300 students, with a goal to graduate 600 students through the computer science and engineering pathway programs at two OUSD high schools: McClymonds and Oakland Technical.

Among the partnership’s first-year achievements are:

  • The computer science curriculum has been expanded to include 9th graders
  • Enrollment in Oakland Tech high school’s Computer Science academy grew from 55 students to 120 for 2016-2017, a 118% increase in students selecting this pathway
  • 79% of McClymonds students that came to Intel for an immersive experience said they are interested in working in the tech industry
  • 24 graduating seniors have been matched with Intel employees for a pilot mentoring program

During the 2015-16 school year, Intel worked with teachers at the two high schools to expand the computer science and engineering pathway programs from three years to four years. And to better prepare graduates for college and potential careers, we worked together to redesign the computer science capstone curriculum, to more closely align it with the current needs of the tech industry.

In addition to redesigning the curriculum, the multi-faceted partnership aims to give students a deeper understanding of the tech industry through work-based learning experiences. Students visited Intel’s Santa Clara campus, toured the museum there, met with employee ambassadors, and engaged in technology demonstrations. “When the students got to play firsthand with Virtual Reality Gaming, Edison Programmable Boards, and RealSense Technology, I could see how intrigued they were,” says Intel employee Timothy A. Brown. “Especially when one of our employees brought in an Edison board and demonstrated how he had programmed the device—I could just tell by the questions the kids asked that they were really captivated.”

With the educators themselves, the focus is on collaboration between OUSD and Intel. “Intel has shown us a different kind of partnership,” says Kathryn Hall, Engineering Pathway Director at McClymonds High School. “Most of the industry relationships result in a quick tour, some free goods, or even a small donation. But Intel has built a new type of relationship—a real partnership in the true sense of the word.” As part of the professional development effort, teachers from both high schools came to Intel for an immersive day of learning. The goal was to help teachers make the connection between the subjects they’re teaching and the opportunities they open up for their students. “We work together to bring as much to the students as possible. I really appreciate that my perspective is heard and that our partnership is truly student-centered,” adds Ms. Hall.

The partnership extends outside the classroom. As Joseph Nsengimana, Director of Pipeline Development, Intel, explains, “We recognize the critical role that parents play in their children’s education, and as such we have made a conscious effort to reach out to the parents.” There have been ongoing activities to engage the parents at both McClymonds and Oakland Tech, including parent nights at the schools, exposure to the curriculum enhancements, and education about the opportunities available with a college-prep plan. The objective is to inform, empower, and inspire parents on how to support students who want to pursue 21st-century careers in STEM.

And perhaps most significantly, since Intel’s 2015 announcement pledging $5M to OUSD, other organizations have pledged an additional $16M in funding to the school district. “Our hope is that pipeline programs like Oakland can be role models for other technology companies,” says Richard Taylor, Intel Senior VP and Director of Human Resources. Bernard McClune, Deputy Chief of OUSD, adds that “Intel is the blueprint for other companies investing in Oakland.”

Reflecting on what inspires him to be involved with the partnership, Intel employee Timothy A. Brown says, “Helping students like this is a passion of mine. I know how hard it was for me as a young black male to get through engineering school. And I always said that once I was done, I’d do whatever I can to help other minorities pursue a degree in STEM. A degree in STEM is hard enough, and it’s even harder when no one else in your class looks like you. So this is why I volunteer—so that I can be a living example to the kids, as a young professional African American male in engineering.”

Timothy and other mentors are having an effect on the student mentees. One high school senior in the pilot mentoring program shares, “My mentor’s enthusiasm, passion for empowering people through tech education, and optimistic outlook on life is just amazing. I’ve learned that there are many opportunities just waiting for me in the world, and I just need to take the initiative and act upon them.”

Intel’s successful partnership with OUSD is an important element of our greater efforts to change the face of the technology industry. We continue to invite others in the industry to join us in these efforts, because we know that, together, our impact can be profound.

Click infographic below to enlarge:

Paul Tawadrous

About Paul Tawadrous

Paul is an Intel Global Diversity & Inclusion Content Manager. Learn more about Paul and connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paultawadrous

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