Amazon doubles down on computer science education in our HQ2 community in Virginia

Amazon Future Engineer, our global philanthropic computer science education program, donated $1 million to CodeVA, a statewide nonprofit that works to expand access to computer science education and literacy in Virginia. The funds will support the expansion of the computer science education ecosystem throughout the commonwealth and help fuel the Amazon CS Ready program, which provides strategic guidance to schools on implementing state-mandated CS Standards of Learning.

The donation follows Amazon Future Engineer’s initial $3.9 million grant to CodeVA in 2020, demonstrating renewed support for one of our long-term, local education partners and current progress to offer computer science education and training to about 700 high-needs schools in the state. More than 13,000 Virginia teachers have received virtual resources and training to date.

A photo of two students operating a drone at the AWS Think Big Space in Leesburg, Virginia.

Students flying a drone at the AWS Think Big Space in Leesburg, Virginia.

In addition, Amazon Web Services (AWS), in collaboration with Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), the Loudoun Education Foundation, and CodeVA opened a new AWS Think Big Space at J. Lupton Simpson Middle School in Leesburg, Virginia. The new AWS Think Big Space provides a dedicated space for students at the school and throughout the county to explore innovative and imaginative ideas through interactive hands-on technical education and cloud computing training. Through an LCPS partnership with CodeVA, the space will also serve as the Northern Virginia Regional Computer Science Hub, inviting teachers from around the region to the facility for free professional development programs.

The AWS Think Big Space at J. Lupton Simpson Middle School is the third space in Virginia funded by AWS InCommunities, a community outreach program that aims to have positive impact in the areas where AWS has presence. In 2019, Prince William County Public Schools opened the world’s first AWS Think Big Space at River Oaks Elementary, and earlier this year, Arlington County Public Schools opened a space at Wakefield High School. AWS Think Big Spaces provide students a place beyond the classroom to further cultivate interests in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) and develop awareness of various career paths. The space features an integrated environment where everything from the furniture, technology, and curriculum work together to encourage hands-on, interactive, and project-based learning. It provides access to various AWS technologies, including virtual reality devices, 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics.

Students exploring AWS technologies at the AWS Think Big Space in Leesburg, Virginia.

“We believe computer science can unleash creativity and unlock human potential. Though talent and passion are spread among all people, opportunity is not. We think it’s critical to increase opportunity for all students to pursue computer science education, no matter what career they choose,” said Victor Reinoso, global director of Amazon Philanthropic Education Initiatives. “These investments underscore our commitment to support education programs throughout Virginia that help create the state’s next generation of leaders who represent our diverse communities.”

The donations build on our efforts to create pathways to success for primary students, college scholars, and interested adults. Through Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon aims to bridge the divide between interested students and available CS courses and opportunities. In Virginia, Amazon Future Engineer supports more than 690 schools across the state by offering career talks and funding high-quality CS curricula, robotics clubs, and educator professional development.

For Computer Science Education Week, Amazon partnered with public school districts in our headquarter communities to offer free Hour of Code activities. During the sessions, students meet Amazon employees and uncover the basic mechanics of voice AI systems as they learn to code their own Alexa skills in an Hour of AI session, or they follow Alexa into space on NASA’s Artemis I mission during the Callisto: Deep Space Innovation Tour.

Learn more about our community efforts.