Funding Will Help Spelman College Continue to Prepare the Next Generation of Computer Scientists

By: Spelman College

(ATLANTA) While other science disciplines have long been considered part of the core for K-12 curriculum, computer science is often left out.  Without exposure to computing topics, high school graduates may never consider computing related degrees or careers.

Through the $1,064,500 funding from the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, including an $160,000 addition from the Intel Foundation at Intel Corporation, Dr. Hill and the Computer and Information Sciences Department at Spelman College will implement Computer Science (CS) Challenge, a multi-faceted Computer Science Preparation program that not only provides financial support to scholars, but also provides awareness of the field of study and its benefits and opportunities; improved preparation for the Class of 2025 computer science students, a pre-Freshman bridge for students interested in computing (per support by Intel), and opportunities for hands-on engagement to reinforce learning outcomes and to stimulate engagement and retention. The project elements include the following: (1) increased outreach and recruitment to elevate awareness of opportunities in the field; (2) development of algorithmic thinking; (3) education in the technical and human/societal aspects of computing; (4) opportunities for students to apply knowledge outside of the traditional classroom setting; (5) career awareness/preparation; (6) faculty and peer mentoring, and (7) scholarships to support the Class of 2025. CS Challenge is designed to help increase the number of women who graduate prepared to enter careers in computer science. 

“At a time where Black women comprise less than 3 percent of the technology workforce, we recognize the unique role HBCUs like Spelman College play in shaping, supporting, and encouraging Black technology graduates for life beyond college,” said Dwana Franklin-Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Reboot Representation. “This is our largest grant yet, and we are excited to work with the Spelman team on investing in Black women’s success, nurturing community participation, and broadening access to computing education.”

According to recent statistics, only 25 percent of tech graduates are women, with a dropout rate of 37 % for tech classes as compared to 30 % for other programs. If this trend continues, the number of underrepresented women of color receiving computing degrees will not double over today’s numbers until 2052—by which time they will represent a vanishingly small proportion of all graduates.

In line with their commitment to expand STEM education through supporting innovative programs, Intel Corporation, an Executive Member of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, has made an additional gift to Spelman College directed to the CS Challenge initiative to create a Pre-Freshman Summer Bridge Program for students interested in computing. “Intel is thrilled to join forces with Reboot Representation to provide aspiring brilliant minds entering Spelman the opportunity to participate in the Computer Science (CS) Challenge Summer Bridge Program. As a Spelman Alumna, I am especially proud of Intel’s investment in enrichment programs, like CS Challenge, to increase the number of women pursuing careers in STEM. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the CS Challenge participants – I know it’s bright”, said Pia Wilson-Body, President, Intel Foundation at Intel Corporation.

The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition is currently 22 members strong. Since their founding in 2018, over 261 million dollars have been committed to Black, Latina, and Native American women in computing, including pooled contributions of 12 million dollars regranted by Reboot. Black, Latina, and Native American women represent approximately 16 percent of the total US population, yet they make up only 4 percent of students obtaining Bachelor’s degrees in computing.