Representation of Native Americans in STEM fields like engineering and computer science continues to be the lowest of any demographic group. We have a long way to go until all students receive the same opportunities in computer science (CS). There is a need for more resources, teacher support, and culturally centered curriculum to fill this equity gap.
Earlier this month, we shared that Google has committed $600,000 so far this year to Indigitize and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) to address this need. To round out Native American Heritage Month, we’re announcing an additional $180,000+ in funding to University of Minnesota, Arizona State University (ASU), and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) to increase access and participation in CS for Indigenous students from K-12 through postsecondary. Here’s the work our funding is supporting:
- University of Minnesota's Northern Lights Collaborative for Computing Education: Our grant will support the development of an Indigenous CS curriculum unit specifically for Ojibwe and Dakota cultures. Up to 15 schools with significant Native American student populations will be provided stipends for a workshop to implement the CS curriculum units and provide feedback to improve the materials.
- Arizona State University: ASU in collaboration with partners from University of Arizona and Computer Science Alliance is creating a "Weaving CS Visions" toolkit for Indigenous schools and communities that center Native cultural knowledge and values. This project will help tribes across the region co-develop and share a resource that educators can use to build out their own CS vision and pathway for their students. The team’s goal is to co-develop a culturally revitalizing approach to CS education that honors and esteems the voices and perspectives of local Indigenous communities.
- American Indian Science and Engineering Society: We’re supporting AISES’ mission to increase the representation of Indigenous peoples in STEM studies and careers by giving $60,000 in scholarships to support 20 Indigenous students with education-related expenses.
- Indigitize: Our grant will help the organization reach upwards of 10,000 Native American students in seven school districts across the country. Indigitize’s mission is not just to engage Indigenous youth in CS, but also to customize existing curricula and resources to better serve Native American learners. You can access their most recent impact report on their homepage.
Lastly, we look forward to supporting the 2024 Four Corners Conference in Farmington, New Mexico. Earlier this year, we sponsored educators attending the 2023 Four Corners Computer Science Convening in Durango, Colorado. In support of CSTA and others, we collaborated with Indigenous leaders to host culturally responsive professional development sessions. Seventy percent of participants said this was their first or near-first computer science training experience. Next year’s in-person convening will expand beyond Indigenous-serving educators to include administrators.
“I don’t think any of us realized how many of us are out there, working on how to approach computer science education from an Indigenous lens,” says Ian Her Many Horses, assistant teaching professor of the School of Education at CU Boulder and one of the conference’s organizers. “My hope is to empower students to solve culturally relevant problems, such as how to preserve language.”