By Ryan Velez
Having served as an activist and figure for equality for decades, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is still going strong in supporting people in need. EURWeb reports that Jackson and his PushTech2020 initiative raised $42,500 to support scholarships and CS-Tech programs in the Oakland Unified School District. With Black and Latino students, especially in impoverished areas falling behind in tech education, this support is key to get this new generation ready to compete in the new workforce.
“I am extremely proud and honored to present this contribution to Oakland’s students,” Rev. Jackson said in a speech at Oakland Technical High School. “Nobody is more deserving. If their minds can conceive it, their hearts can believe it, I know they can achieve anything in the world. Keep PUSHing for success and excellence.” In addition to praising the students, Jackson also appealed to technology companies to partner with the Oakland Unified School District to expand their computer science programs. Several companies answered the call, with Microsoft, Intel, and 11 West Partners all matching the $10,000 Rainbow PUSH contribution and Comcast contributing $2,500. 100% of this money is going directly to scholarships and CS-Tech programs in the district.
Acting superintendent Devon Dillon shared the need for this expanded program. Students in computer science programs in the district have grown 1000% over the last two years. Of these students, 45 percent are young women, 29 percent identify as African-American, and 38 percent identify as Latino, in line with the district’s overall student population.
“Because OUSD is located in the technology capital of the world, we know how much tech firms need highly qualified computer programmers and engineers,” said Dillon. “We are on the right track in exposing an exponentially growing number of our students to computer science, and we are confident that some OUSD students will be the tech leaders of tomorrow.”
Jackson continued with an address to the tech community at large to keep its eyes on Oakland’s public schools and try to align with their programs. “Tech companies can’t look past Oakland looking for talent. There is a wealth of talent and creativity among Oakland’s youth. There are hidden geniuses everywhere. We can build a pipeline of talent from Oakland to Silicon Valley and the tech industry… not just India or China.”