The White House today announced its intention to see $200 million in grant funding directed towards STEM and computer science education in FY 2018. The details are sparse at the moment, but in a memo signed today, President Trump directed the Department of Education to explore ways to add or increase computer science to existing K-12 and post-secondary education programs. The memo announces “a goal of devoting at least…$200 million each year in grant funding toward funding this priority,” Trump said at the announcement. Additionally, the new funding is expected to be bolstered by “substantial” contributions from the private sector, which are to be announced at an event tomorrow in Detroit.
“[T]oday represents a giant leap forward as we think about aligning the skills that are taught in the classroom with the skills that are in demand in the modern economy,” said Ivanka Trump, who is leading the effort on behalf of the President.
There are obvious comparison’s to the Obama Administration’s CS for All initiative announced in January 2016, which pledged $4 billion for CS education but didn’t see any of those funds appropriated by Congress. The Trump Administration is differentiating itself by directing the Department of Education to, “explore administrative action that will add or increase focus on computer science in existing K through 12 and post-secondary programs.” These administrative actions would not require additional legislative approval.
Code.org’s CEO and founder Hadi Partovi applauded the news, saying, “this funding will jumpstart efforts to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of a well-rounded education.”
We will update this post as more details are announced by the Administration, including the all-important guidance from the Department of Education about how this grant program will work. We’ll also have information about the private sector contributions as they’re announced.
For now, this is a big step and a big win for the K-12 computer science education community and all of its advocates who have been working tirelessly on this issue for many years. It demonstrates even more clearly that recognition of the importance of computer science education stretches across partisan lines.
Update: The White House released the full memorandum to the Secretary of Education. As well, Code.org has announced that, “some of America’s largest companies joined together to pledge over $300 million for K-12 computer science programs.”