Salesforce.org has announced that it is donating $12.2 million to the San Francisco and Oakland school districts for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) will receive $7 million and will become the first school district in the country to offer a computer science curriculum for every grade. Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) has also received an endowment of $5.2 million dollars.
This is Salesforce.org’s fifth year supporting SFUSD, and its second year supporting OUSD. In total, Salesforce has donated $34.7 million to the two school districts.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and co-founder Parker Harris announced the news yesterday at Visitacion Valley Middle School, one of the schools that will benefit from the donation.
Benioff was joined by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews, OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Visitacion Valley Middle School principal Joe Truss as he announced the donation.
He also called on other tech companies and CEOs to get involved with their local school districts.
"We have adopted 27 local schools," he said, "and we ask every CEO to adopt to do the same. That’s the way to do it, everyone has to be involved.”
In addition to Salesforce.org's contributions, Benioff has personally adopted Presidio Middle School, funding 1,200 Chromebook laptops—one for each student—and the redesign of the playground after student suggestions.
“We believe that every person deserves an equal opportunity to succeed and that starts with giving kids access to the best education possible," he said. "In a world where every aspect our lives is run by technology, this quality of education is important."
While some have raised concerns over tech billionaires' contributions to school systems, local officials pointed to the success of the Salesforce programs in their schools.
According to SFUSD's Matthews, the number of students that needed to repeat algebra has dropped from 43 percent to 5 percent in the past three years.
The overall interest in computer science has tripled. The number of girls enrolled in computer science has increased from nearly 200 to more than 3,800, and enrollment of underrepresented groups in computer science has grown similarly.
Today, computer science enrollment mirrors the SFUSD community demographic, with female and other underrepresented groups each making up nearly half of overall enrollment.
"This money is going to all of our middle schools," said Matthews. "Every single school receives $100,000 worth of innovation grant money. On top of that, another $200,000 is invested in math and computer science.”
"My hope is that these kids see themselves as equals," said Lee. "I want them to be our doctors, lawyers and teachers, and CEOs. I want every kid here to feel like they got that opportunity, and that's the importance of this investment."
In Oakland, the number of teachers teaching computer science in middle school has increased from two to 14 since the partnership with OUSD started in 2016.
Middle school enrollment in computer science courses grew from 80 to more than 900 students. Of these 900 students taking their first computer science class, 45 percent are young women, 29 percent are African-American and 38 percent are Latinx, mirroring the demographics of OUSD.
Schaaf noted that the company had doubled its contribution to Oakland, compared to the previous year and told us that the donation allowed the two school districts to accelerate a "21st-century education."
"Last year, Salesforce's contribution increased science education for middle schoolers by 16 times," she said. "This year they’re going to be bringing personalized math instruction innovation funds to every middle school."
She said that the company's contribution was essential for Oakland students to succeed.
"If it weren’t for Salesforce," she said, "we would be leaving hundreds of students behind in this new economy."
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