July 22, 2019
4-H and Google Expand Access to Free Computer Science Education to Kansas and Communities Across the Country
Johnson County, Kansas (June 24, 2019) – In Kansas and all across the country, technology will play an increasingly important role in the way we live and work. As the most populous county in Kansas, Johnson County is home to over 96,000 school-age youth and major employers such as Sprint, AMC Theatres, Seaboard, Black & Veatch, and more. The Regional Workforce Intelligence Network found in 2017, there were nearly 50,000 Informational Technology jobs in the Kansas City metro area, indicating a need for our youth to practice computational thinking skills and technique. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that in just three years there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs, and only 400,000 qualified job candidates.
In response, National 4-H Council announced a new $6 million collaboration with Google to bring computer science (CS) education to undeserved youth across the country. The collaboration will expand the 4-H CS Career Pathway to reach more than one million youth over the next three years, with a focus on rural youth and populations that have traditionally had limited access to CS education. But the program isn’t just about programming computers, it’s about helping students learn skills they’ll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way across every discipline from business to agriculture to the arts.
“I want to not only help teach younger kids about the fascination of computers and get them into a growing sector of knowledge and jobs, but also help them learn all about the different types of work that comes with computer science.” Said Zachary Botkin, Johnson County 4-H youth leader.
K-State Research and Extension, 4-H CS programming will engage youth through circuitry, robotics, coding, and more through a variety of delivery modes. The youth leaders are currently getting trained and delivering pilot programs across Johnson County, Kansas to share their experience with others. Relying on trained youth leaders under the mentorship of trusted adult leaders will help expand reach while providing older youth opportunities for leadership and serve as positive role models in the communities.
“Computer science education is so powerful because it engages youth in critical thinking and problem solving that can be used across all disciplines. I love seeing the youth’s eyes light up when they find solutions to problems and its valuable for them to see that there can be multiple solutions to the same problem.” Said Ami Lin, K-State Research and Extension, 4-H Agent, Johnson County.
Google’s support will build upon its prior investment of over $2 million in funding, to support training and resources which helped establish the 4-H CS Pathway that has reached over 325,000 youth since 2017. The collaboration combines the reach and educational expertise of 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development organization, and the power of Google’s CS products, educational programs, and employee volunteers who have dedicated more than 1,000 hours to support 4-H youth as they explore CS. In Kansas, Google’s support will equip 4-H educators with curriculum, training, devices and access to Google CS experts. As with most 4-H programs, the effort will feature teen-led, peer-to-peer mentoring.
Jackson Holle, Johnson County 4-H youth leader, shared, “The opportunity of combining my love for computers with teaching youth is very exciting. The chance to be active in developing this program and shape the direction of technology education in 4-H is something that I am passionate about.”
The Google-supported program lays the groundwork for 4-H to deliver computer science education across the organization, which reaches nearly six million kids in every county and parish in the United States. It establishes an official 4-H Computer Science Career Pathway, which helps kids progress from casual interest in CS, to dedicated studies and ultimately career experience. Utah State University Extension’s 4-H program is a key partner in co-creating the 4-H CS Career Pathway and developing tools for educators to implement the program.
In addition to Kansas, 4-H CS programming is also available in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Virginia. Resources will expand programming in California, Illinois, Indiana, New York and West Virginia. Read more about the initial collaboration that established the 4-H CS Pathway across 23 states.
Google.org works to extend the reach of nonprofit innovators and connect them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, tools, and volunteers from around Google. These innovators are the believers-turned-doers who have made the biggest impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change that can scale. To date, Google.org has given over $110M to help close learning gaps around the world. This grant builds on that legacy by providing CS to students who have traditionally lacked access.
To learn more about Google.org, please visit https://www.google.org/.