FCC To Launch $7.17 Billion Connectivity Fund Program

New Program Provides Funding to Schools and Libraries Critical to Closing the Homework Gap

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Far too often, students, teachers, and library patrons lack the access they need to broadband and connected devices. This need has become even more apparent during these unprecedented times,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the FCC. “Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households. These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare, and employment resources. They will help close the Homework Gap for students nationwide and give so many more households the ability to connect, communicate, and more fully participate in modern life.”

The Report and Order adopted today establishes the rules and policies governing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The new rules define eligible equipment and services, service locations, eligible uses, and reasonable support amounts for funding provided. It designates the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) as the program administrator with FCC oversight, and leverages the processes and structures used in the ERate program for the benefit of schools and libraries already familiar with the E-Rate program. It also adopts procedures to protect the limited funding from waste, fraud, and abuse.

Recent estimates suggest there may be as many as 17 million children struggling without the broadband access they need for remote learning. The Acting Chairwoman has long made closing the Homework Gap a priority during her tenure at the Commission.

— Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Top photo: GettyImages


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Amazon’s Future Engineer Program funds High School Computer Science Courses

Jeff Bezos visits Dunbar High School in Washington,D.C. Amazon launches Future Engineer Program

SEATTLE, WA—Amazon today announced it reached a new milestone—through its Amazon Future Engineer program, it is funding computer science courses in more than 2,000 high schools supporting students from underserved and underrepresented communities across the country. Benefiting more than 100,000 high school students, from Nenana, Alaska to Washington, D.C., Amazon is funding full-year Intro and AP computer science courses, primarily for public Title I schools that have never offered AP computer science courses before. Amazon Future Engineer is a four-part, childhood-to-career program that works to inspire and educate 10 million children and young adults each year from underserved and underrepresented communities to try computer science.

“We applaud the teachers who took the initiative to bring these courses to their deserving students, and we are humbled to be a part of the important work they do in their classrooms across the country every single day,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon. “This is an important milestone for our Amazon Future Engineer program and its quest to make sure more students, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities, have the access to and the opportunity to dive deep into an exciting computer science education.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds. Students from underprivileged backgrounds are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school.

amazon-bezos-kindleAmazon Future Engineer provides access to computer science courses in more than 2,000 schools through its curriculum providers – Edhesive and Code.org. Since the beginning of the 2019/2020 school year, the vast majority of the high schools accepted in the Amazon Future Engineer program are public schools that have received or are eligible for Title I funding.

“Having Amazon Future Engineer fund courses for our students in rural Oregon means we are able to give our students exposure to technology rich skills that directly impact their future career choice,” said Kyle Sipe, Instructional Coach and Robotics Mentor, Umatilla High School. “Because of this program, we can alter the knowledge base of our students and assist them to select a career that better suits our local job market’s needs. Amazon Future Engineer has given our kids the amazing opportunity to get relevant and applicable technology content.”

“We have future scientists, engineers, and inventors in our classrooms throughout the District, and I am proud that we have resources like Amazon’s Future Engineer program to provide them with the learning opportunities they need to achieve their goals,” said District of Columbia Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee. “We are excited to welcome the Amazon team to Dunbar High School to see our students in action, and their passion and excitement for computer science is what drives us to continue to expand our STEM programming through National Academy Foundation (NAF) Academies, courses, extracurricular activities, and more.”

“As demand for computer science skills impacts a wide range of industries from manufacturing to customer service, the demand for a diverse labor force equipped with technical capabilities also rises,” said Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI). “It’s why we applaud all efforts from the public and private sector to increase access to a robust computer science education and to nurture the growth of our nation’s economy. I am looking forward to seeing all that the next generation of students in Michigan’s 11th district will achieve, as the Amazon Future Engineer program launches at high schools there and across the country.”

The Amazon Future Engineer high schools will receive funding from Amazon to offer Intro & AP computer science courses. Amazon’s funding also provides preparatory lessons, tutorials, professional development for teachers, fully sequenced and paced digital curriculum for students, and live online support every day of the week for both teachers and students. All educators and students participating in this program have access to a no-cost membership with AWS Educate, Amazon’s global initiative to provide students comprehensive resources for building skills in cloud technology. Students will receive content to learn about cloud computing and access to the AWS cloud for their coding projects.

Launched in November 2018, Amazon Future Engineer is a four-part childhood-to-career program intended to inspire, educate, and prepare children and young adults from underrepresented and underserved communities to pursue careers in the fast-growing field of computer science. Each year, Amazon Future Engineer aims to inspire millions of kids to explore computer science; provides over 100,000 young people in over 2,000 high schools access to Intro or AP Computer Science courses; awards 100 students with four-year $10,000 scholarships, as well as offers guaranteed and paid Amazon internships to gain work experience. Amazon Future Engineer is part of Amazon’s $50 million investment in computer science/STEM education. In addition, Amazon Future Engineer has donated more than $10 million to organizations that promote computer science/STEM education across the country.

Cover photo: Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, visits an Amazon-funded computer science class at Dunbar High School in Washington D.C.
— Source and photos: Amazon and NBC Washington

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Cisco to Layoff up to 20% of its Global Workforce

SAN JOSE, CA [CRN] — Cisco Systems is expected to announce the cuts within the next few weeks, as many early retirement package plans have already been offered to employees, said sources. Cisco is set to announce its fourth fiscal quarter results after the market closes later today.

cisco-focus-edtechCisco must retool digital tool sets for all vertical markets (such as education, healthcare, transportation, energy) with new people and new skills to become a smaller, leaner, and more agile company. Mark Haranas of CRN reports Cisco is laying off upward of 14,000 employees representing nearly 20 percent of the networking giant’s global workforce, according to multiple sources close to the company. These heavy cuts, which sources say range between 9,000 and 14,000 employees worldwide, stem from Cisco’s transition from its hardware roots into a new “software-centric” organization.

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— Source: CRN.com
Cover and photo credits: Cisco Systems 
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