Cal State Dominguez Hills has received the largest donation in its history from the company that developed Snapchat to help the university establish an institute dedicated to addressing equity gaps in computer education.
The university, near Carson, announced the $5 million donation on Wednesday, Nov. 3, saying the new institute — housed in the College of Education — will serve as a leader in computer education research, teacher preparation and curriculum development around equality and access, especially for bilingual learners.
The institute will also work with Los Angeles school districts to make high-quality computer science education an integral part of the experience for all K-12 students.
“The legacy Snap Inc. is helping build will positively impact the South Bay and California as a whole, and will reverberate through generations of computer science teachers and students,” CSUDH president Thomas Parham said in a statement. “Incorporating computer science education into the curriculum of K-12 schools in underserved communities is an important step in closing the digital divide that many future scientists are looking in.
“With the help of Snap Inc.,” he added, “CSUDH will break that digital divide and create technology-conscious, academically engaged leaders across Southern California.”
Dominguez Hills is one of the most diverse universities in the country. The student population is 64% Hispanic/Latino, 13% Black and 10% Asian or Pacific Islander. It is also considered a Hispanic institution because a quarter of its students are Hispanic and at least half of the degree-seeking students are low-income, according to the Cal State University system.
The donation was made in conjunction with the launch of the Action to Catalyze Tech Report, created by the Catalyze Tech coalition, which is trying to solve the acute shortage of computer science teachers, in part by funding special centers for such education at colleges.
Ahead of the first virtual DEI Innovation Summit, taking place this week, the Catalyze Tech coalition announced $20 million in new funding for four colleges. In addition to CSUDH, Georgia State University will receive $5 million from Snap Inc. The University of Florida and University of Texas at El Paso will also receive $5 million each from philanthropist Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel Capital, and the Hopper Dean Foundation, respectively.
“We are so excited to begin work,” said Dean Jessica Pandya of the CSUDH College of Education. “We will incorporate computer science knowledge and theories into course materials, and will work with educators in Los Angeles Unified School District, Inglewood, Lynwood and other local districts to support them in integrating computer science learning into their daily classes.
“We will also be launching a variety of activities for school-aged students,” she added, “from coding evenings to coding summer camps, with an explicit focus on issues of access and equality.”