Silicon Valley Bank and Partners Develop STEM Skills for Future Workforce, Teach Kids to Code

Company news  |  October 17, 2013

New Programs in CA and VA Inspire Young People to Pursue Education and Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

SANTA CLARA, Calif. –– October 18, 2013 — Incenting 6-12 grade students with free computer tablets, Silicon Valley Bank, financial partner to companies in the innovation sector, is teaming up with several partners to help engage young people in computer science. The company joins the Level Playing Field Institute and Virginia Advanced Study Strategies to introduce STEM skills to young people through new programs using low cost tablets this fall. Video.

"We need to create a tech-savvy, highly skilled workforce to fuel innovation in America," said Greg Becker, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Bank. "With a continued emphasis on STEM skills we can put people to work, stay competitive globally and keep developing the technologies, medicines, devices and innovations that are solving human problems and improving the quality of people's lives."

"Teaching STEM skills to kids is not a brand new idea, but we have to ensure we broaden its appeal for everyone," said Aneesh Chopra, former CTO of the US. "Government, business, the education system – we all have to keep the pressure on and the activity level high to turn the tide and get people interested and trained in subjects that are going to enable a stronger, technical workforce."

"Diversifying our tech talent pool is an imperative for the tech sector. More diverse engineers and entrepreneurs will bring about a new type of innovation that Silicon Valley has yet to see," said Mitch Kapor of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, one of the event sponsors. 

"Silicon Valley has a desperate shortage of talent ," said Vivek Wadhwa Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University. "At the same time there are hundreds of thousands of children who are left out of the digital economy. I am really excited that we are taking advantage of technology from the developing world to bridge this digital divide of the developed world."

Two new programs aimed at giving young people access to mentors in computer science and tools to develop apps are kicking off this school year:

1. California Bay Area Hackathon: Level the Coding Field
"This hackathon allows us to expose a large number of kids in a weekend to computer science, and get them excited about a different path in life and a different set of opportunities," said Sumaiya Talukdar, Director of Strategic Partnerships of the Level Playing Field Institute. 

Silicon Valley Bank partnered with Vivek Wadhwa of Singularity University, AT&T, The Kapor Center for Social Impact and Datawind to devise and deliver two weekend-long hackathons hosted by the Level Playing Field Institute in the Bay Area this fall. More than 250 6-12 graders from low income and minority groups underrepresented in computer science will compete to win cash prizes for the best app, judged by a panel of investors, technologists and educators. Each participating student will also receive a free Datawind Ubislate 3G Tablet, courtesy of Silicon Valley Bank and three months of a 1 GB Wireless Data Plan, courtesy of AT&T. Events will be held on October 26-27 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View and November 16-17 at Connexion at Jack London Place in Oakland. 

To get involved, contact Level Playing Field Institute for volunteer opportunities and information. Follow the event on Twitter with #levelcodingfield

2. Virginia: Computer Coding Competition
Virginia Advanced Study Strategies is partnering with CodeAcademy, TeamTreehouse, and several foundations and businesses throughout Virginia to introduce middle and high school students to computer coding. Students will be given access to computer application development software and challenged to build a working computer app. Those who are successful within the timeframe of a school semester will be recognized in January 2014 for their success, earn a digital badge for their career portfolio, and given a Datawind Ubislate 3G Tablet.

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