As part of the White House CS4All initiative, today Intel announced it will fund the development of a culturally-sensitive high school computer science (CS) curriculum for Native American students in collaboration with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). This initiative will support 40 Native American university students every year for four years by providing them with financial support, Intel mentors, paid internships, and an Intel job upon successful graduation.
I’m particularly proud of this commitment because it came from a true grassroots collaboration with several key stakeholders. It’s the result of a series of conversations with Native American thought leaders over the last few months, including a convening of stakeholders at Intel Chandler, the publication of a whitepaper on the convening, and a panel discussion at the AISES annual conference.
With this announcement, Intel increases its investment in the Native American community. We’re building on the Next Generation of Native American Coders project launched last year at the Navajo Nation in Arizona, where we introduced CS classes at three Navajo schools, trained CS teachers and provided a computer lab for each school. This fall, CS classes were taught at these schools for the first time and I was overwhelmed by the student’s level of interest; 176 students signed up for the class offering. With this level of interest and excitement, the future is bright indeed!
Growing the legacy of Native American leadership in science and technology
Two months ago, Intel hosted a thought leadership event in partnership with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). The event brought together key leaders in academia, government, tribal nations, non-profit organizations and the tech industry to facilitate constructive collaboration aimed at increasing Native American leadership in STEM.
It was exciting to participate with over 40 leaders and subject matter experts in a discussion about the current state of STEM education in Indian Country; we explored both challenges and opportunities. The result was insightful recommendations to accelerate and expand Native American students’ participation in STEM education.
For more details, I encourage you to read the whitepaper we published, which outlines six key recommendations from this first-of-its-kind event.
Intel’s commitment to improve STEM participation
At the AISES conference last month, we shared the recommendations and engaged over 60 conference attendees from tribal leaderships, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations. We issued a call to action for next year: Choose one or two recommendations, implement them, and report the progress at a session sponsored by Intel during next year’s AISES conference. The sense of commitment was inspiring and I can’t wait to report the progress we’ll collectively make next year.
As part of today’s announcement, Intel is supporting these two recommendations:
- Align Cultural Identity with STEM Necessity: A theme throughout the convening, this recommendation aims to find ways to align STEM education with existing tribal culture in order to make STEM fields resonate with students in a meaningful and long-lasting way.
- Leverage Private Sector Programs and Resources: Specifically referencing mentorships, internships and direct support to build STEM curricula, this recommendation is where Intel (and other companies) can help in the effort to boost Native American STEM access.
Intel is taking the lead
I like what Jacqueline Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, said as she reflected on the convening, “When we have these conversations with the people who are leading the industry, it is so exciting…the opportunities are boundless.” She was talking about Intel! Moving forward, we will continue to take the action necessary to promote Native American participation in STEM, as part of Intel’s overall commitment to diversity.