4-H and Google Team Up to Bring Computer Science Education to Kids Across the Country

17 Aug

If there is one point on which most Americans agree, it is that technology will play an increasingly important role in the way we live and work. 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, 4-H, America’s largest youth development organization, and Google are coming together for a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) collaboration that will teach kids both technical skills like coding, and essential skills students will need in the future like, teamwork and resilience. 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 engineering to the arts.

The collaboration is funded by a $1.5 million grant from Google.org to establish a CS program that will empower more than 100,000 young people across 22 states in its first year. The collaboration will include an effort to reach communities where youth traditionally have limited access to computers, internet or CS training. With Google’s support, 4-H will equip community educators with new funding, curriculum, training, devices and the support of Google CS experts. As with most 4-H programs, the effort will feature teen-led, peer-to-peer mentoring.

4-H and Google publicly announced the collaboration today at a press conference at the Illinois State Fair, where they also debuted a new 4-H-themed virtual reality Expedition showcasing 4-H youth using technology to improve their communities.

“It is incredibly exciting to combine the power of 4-H with the impact of Google’s philanthropy, products and people,” said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of National 4-H Council. “Working together, our two organizations will make a tremendous difference in the lives of young people by making computer science education accessible and engaging. No matter where kids live or what they aspire to be, these are skills that will help them succeed.”

The collaboration between 4-H and Google 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.

“We are proud to be a part of this effort to bring hands-on programming to our nation’s youth,” said Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org. “It’s important for kids to develop a wide range of skills, like computer science skills, analytical thinking and creative problem solving, and our work with National 4-H Council will help ensure that kids across the country have access to a better future.”

In its first year, the program is available in the following states: AlabamaCaliforniaDelawareHawaiiIllinoisIndianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMinnesotaMissouriNebraskaNew YorkNorth DakotaOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaSouth CarolinaTennesseeUtahVirginia, and West Virginia.