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Cognizant U.S. Foundation Announces $3M Investment in Teach For America to Expand Access to K-12 Computer Science Education



Photo © Teach For America

As we recognize this year’s Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 7-13), it is an important reminder of how K-12 education can produce life-changing opportunities for students and why it’s critical for schools to offer courses that provide digital literacy, computational thinking and a foundational understanding of computer science.

Despite progress over the past decade, still, far too few schools in the U.S. offer students access to computer science. In fact, according to the 2020 State of Computer Science Education report, 53% of high schools do not offer courses in computer science, and for those that do, girls and students of color are underrepresented.

“We have a responsibility to ensure today’s students are equipped to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow—jobs that provide economic mobility and require computational thinking and digital skills. To do this, it is critical to provide all students with computer science education starting at an early age,” said Kristen Titus, Executive Director, Cognizant U.S. Foundation. “Building a diverse and equitable workforce begins with investments in K-12 computer science, and a school’s curriculum should reflect the skills needed to succeed in a digital economy.” 

Against that backdrop, the Cognizant U.S. Foundation is proud to announce a $3 million investment in Teach For America, an organization that recruits and develops a diverse corps of educators who become lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity. Teach For America has 64,000 alumni and corps members working in more than 9,000 schools nationwide. 


Through the foundation’s support, Teach For America has launched new programming to expand the number of low-income schools offering high-quality computer science education. These programs include the Cognizant AP Computer Science Principles Fellowship, the Cognizant Computer Science School Leaders Cohort, the Cognizant Computer Science Teaching Awards, and advocacy and training efforts to equip school districts in rural and urban areas to offer new computer science coursework. 

To date, Teach For America has identified Cognizant Fellows in schools across nine states—with 73% identifying as people of color and 50% being women. Speaking on his experience as a Cognizant AP Computer Science Principles Fellow, William Russell said, “The most rewarding aspect so far is teaching computer science to students who potentially would not be exposed to this type of material until college. It is incredible to see how excited students become as they learn a new concept and are able to produce code and make it run for the first time.”

“Students can't be what they can’t see. More than half of America’s public school students identify as people of color, but only 1 in 5 teachers do. We need to build a pipeline of game-changing teachers—especially teachers of color and teachers from low-income backgrounds—with the necessary STEM and computer science skills to provide a rigorous and relevant education,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO, Teach For America.

Read more about the partnership’s combined impact in this Forbes column featuring a Q&A with TFA CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard.

Media inquiries—Kyle Gunnels, Head of Communications,