Foundation awards $4.1 million to expand tech education and build an inclusive tech workforce

Categories: Announcements , Tech + Workforce

BOSTON, February 18, 2021 – The full promise of a digitally enabled society can be achieved through educational opportunity for all students and potential tech workers. To advance this vision, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation is announcing $4.1 million in new grants that strengthen the pipeline of technology education and workforce development, from K-12 through college and beyond.

“Right now, power and control of technology rests in too few hands. This round of grants aims to change that by closing the opportunity gap in education and skills development,” said Patrick J.  McGovern Foundation President Vilas Dhar. “Everyone should have access to the knowledge, skills and frameworks to shape our tech-enabled future.”

The educational grants reflect the Foundation’s commitment to advancing tech for good. In January, the Foundation announced it will double its 2021 data and AI grantmaking to $40 million, and introduce new initiatives to accelerate opportunity and innovation in the development of inclusive, ethical data and AI.

At the heart of these grants is a commitment to transforming the status quo of technology opportunity with new models that include entrepreneurship, upskilling for historically marginalized communities, and ensuring underrepresented students complete their college education.

The new grants aim to increase diversity in the tech workforce beginning with computer science education in K-12 classrooms around the country and provide support through college graduation for under-represented and low-income students.

“In today’s world, where technology touches every part of our lives—from keeping us connected and informed to solving global issues—computer science has become a foundational subject for any future path,” said Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO of, which expands access to computer science in K-12 schools and is one of 16 new grant recipients. “And every student should have the opportunity to study it and take part in creating the future they want to live in.”

At the heart of these grants is a commitment to transforming the status quo of technology opportunity with new models that include entrepreneurship, upskilling for historically marginalized communities, and ensuring underrepresented students complete their college education.

“Diverse minds at the design table of technology will not only yield greater innovation, but will also create more equitable and representative technology solutions for a broader scope of challenges facing our communities and our planet,” said Ruthe Farmer, Founder & CEO of the Last Mile Education Fund, which focuses on investing in student persistence and potential to get them over the last mile to graduation and into tech careers.

A key focus will be creating educational frameworks for social and ethical technology development. Through collaborations with leading academic institutions, the Foundation is supporting efforts at the forefront of building these frameworks for technology development and policy making.

“We need to develop responsible ‘habits of mind and action’ for those who create and deploy computing technologies and foster the creation of technologies in the public interest. Key to this effort is training the next generation of leaders who will undertake research that assesses broad challenges and opportunities associated with computing, and who will lead efforts to improve design, policy, implementation, and impacts,” said Julie Shah, Associate Dean, Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing Schwarzman College of Computing and Associate Professor in Aeronautics and Astronautics and head of the Interactive Robotics Group at Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. 

The new grants include: to support the CodeBytes program, which provides short, interactive online computer science lessons for K-12 students. ($100,000)

Girls Inc. to support the organization’s mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through direct service and advocacy and complete a tech infrastructure audit as a first step in accelerating a tech-centered strategic plan. ($250,000)

Girls Who Code to provide support for their mission to close the gender gap in technology. ($200,000)

Team4Tech to support expansion of their community of practice and launch regional hubs to create opportunities for learners around the world. ($100,000)

MIT Beaver Works to enhance diversity and inclusion efforts as well as to build and scale a model for public use as it develops its rigorous, hands-on student STEM program. ($250,000)

AI4ALL to increase representation of women and other historically excluded groups in AI and build a community of diverse interdisciplinary leaders to positively influence the future of AI. ($500,000) 

Last Mile Education Fund to increase diversity in tech and engineering by addressing critical gaps in financial support for low-income, underrepresented students within four semesters of college graduation. ($250,000)

Partners in Development to support the Bridging the Digital Divide Program in Rural Mississippi, which currently has very limited educational resources and internet access. ($200,000)

First Star to provide support for the First Star National STEAM Academy. Led by technology and grounded in social justice, this series of culturally relevant online Tech Talks is aimed at increasing teenage foster youth engagement in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) careers. ($50,000)

The Tech Interactive to support The Tech for Global Good program, including the selection of an annual laureate who is using technology to bring about needed change in their community, a virtual field trip, and the development of educational content for students. ($200,000)

The Hidden Genius Project for their mission to train and mentor Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. ($300,000)

AkiraChix provides tech training, upskilling, and mentorship to young women from Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda ($150,000). 

AnnieCannons to transform the lives of survivors of human trafficking and gender-based violence with computer science training and job skills that lead to gainful employment and independent economic security. ($100,000)

Oxford’s Institute for Ethics in AI to investigate and address the ethical challenges and opportunities that AI poses to the future of democracy. ($500,000)

The Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing, a cross-cutting area of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, to support the equipping of researchers and students from across engineering, computer science, the humanities, and social sciences to analyze and articulate societal and ethical considerations as well as pursue cross-disciplinary approaches to develop technologies that can foster positive impacts for individuals and society.  ($500,000)

The Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) to support its work to implement rigorous education programs for policymakers, supplying them with critical knowledge needed to understand AI technologies, trends and coming advances preparing them to address policy opportunities and challenges. ($500,000)

The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation is a global philanthropy bridging the frontiers of artificial intelligence, data science, and social impact to create a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all. Learn more about our recent grants to support climate action, digital health, and vulnerable communities.