Innovator will.i.am is furthering his efforts to use tech education as a vessel to empower youth. He has teamed up with the Los Angeles Unified School District for the creation of a robotics program for children in underserved communities.
The initiative is being led by the i.am Angel Foundation; an organization founded by will.i.am 12 years ago that was designed to provide STEAM education-centered programs for youth in the Boyle Heights neighborhood who come from impoverished households. The foundation offers after-school programs and coding workshops to introduce students to the different facets of science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Through the extended partnership, the Los Angeles Unified School District—which is the largest public school system in California—and the i.am Angel Foundation will create robotics clubs for 12,000 middle and high school students.
will.i.am says exposure to STEM education will be instrumental in changing the trajectory of these students’ careers by providing them with the tools and resources needed to step into a space where they are significantly underrepresented. “With robotics clubs, boys and girls can learn valuable STEM skills and how to work in teams – knowledge that helps secure college scholarships and, eventually, high-paying jobs,” he said in a statement. “With FIRST Robotics, every child can be a winner in school, work and in life. My mission is to put a robotics club in every public school, and we are off to a great start with this new program in Los Angeles.” Austin Beutner, who serves as Los Angeles Unified Superintendent, added the program will help level the playing field in the realm of technology. It’s slated to launch in August.
Several influential individuals in the music industry are spearheading tech education programs. In January, Pharrell Williams unveiled the “Your Voice is Power” initiative for youth which merges music, technology and entrepreneurship.