“In an effort to attract more — and more diverse — programmers, the CEOs of two dozen big tech companies, including Microsoft MSFT +2.75%, Google GOOGL +1.68% and Salesforce.com CRM +1.74%, will launch a campaign Wednesday with non-profit Code.org to introduce computer science to 100 million students world-wide.
The companies agreed to promote Hour of Code, a campaign that encourages students to try an hour of computer coding with an online tutorial. They also plan a crowd-sourced campaign to raise $5 million to be used to train teachers in schools that don’t offer computer science classes, Code.org said.
The companies will ask employees to support the Hour of Code during Computer Science Education Week in December, by trying the tutorials, encouraging students to take the online course, and donating to the campaign.
Roughly 40 million people have participated in Hour of Code since the program started last year, some of them taught by Facebook FB +1.61% founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
The renewed effort comes after many tech companies released data showing their workforces are heavily male, white and Asian. Education is often cited as a key to getting girls and racial minorities involved in computer science early on.
“Some of these companies are competitors,” said Hadi Partovi, chief executive of Code.org. “We represent a nice, safe place for them to channel their efforts.”
Including employees adds to the industry effort, Partovi said. “These are people whose own careers have been made with education that America is not offering all its students.”
Code.org says only 10% of American schools teach computer science, and in 27 states computer science cannot be applied to math or science requirements.
Few computer science students are women or minorities. Of the 22,000 U.S. students who took the advanced-placement computer science test in 2012, about 4,200 were girls and fewer than were 3,000 African-American or Hispanic.
Stanford University lecturer Jay Borenstein, who founded Facebook’s college-age Open Academy education project, said the larger effort for Code.org is a positive sign. “It’s a societal challenge to make sure access to computer science education is there for everyone,” he said.
Big names in technology said the campaign is important for the future American workforce. “In the 21st century, learning computer science is as foundational to a student’s education as learning biology, chemistry, or physics,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft in a statement.
Other companies taking part include Disney DIS +1.15%, Dropbox, Eventbrite, GoDaddy, Target, Yelp, and Zillow.
If it succeeds, the $5 million campaign will be the largest to date on the crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, that company and Code.org said.”