Amazon Invests $3M in Computer Science Programs at 2 Washington Community Colleges

The partnership with the Puget Sound community colleges will support four-year degree programs in computer science.
1 min read

Share this Article

  • Amazon's investment aims to help the community colleges build out their computer science programs and reach historically underrepresented students.
  • Amazon and other tech companies have ramped up workforce development efforts in recent years by partnering with colleges and universities.
  • Washington authorized all of the state's community colleges to offer four-year computer science degrees last year.

As Washington community colleges launch four-year computer science degrees, two schools in the Puget Sound region just got a big head start from Amazon.

The Seattle-based tech giant, which has ramped up its workforce education efforts in recent years, donated $3 million to community colleges in its home region to build out four-year computer science programs.

Bellevue College and Seattle Colleges each received $1.5 million to boost their computer science programs with a particular focus on helping students who are historically underrepresented in the tech workforce, according to an Amazon release.

Engineering and computer science are two of the most in-demand career fields in the U.S., and it is essential that there are enough skilled workers who represent our diverse communities to fill these roles, Victor Reinoso, global director of Amazon's philanthropic education initiatives, said in the release. We are committed to creating a diverse pipeline of tech students in the Puget Sound region and hiring this homegrown talent to help keep this region strong in the years to come.

The funding will help Bellevue College serve 60% more students with its already-existing computer science program, as well as provide financial and technical assistance to students, according to the release. Seattle Colleges, which has three area campuses, will likewise expand its computer science program to reach more students with the funding.

In the release, Seattle Colleges interim Chancellor Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap underscored the importance of the tech workforce to the region.

As an institution that serves this technology-driven community, we understand the value of computer science and STEM education, Rimando-Chareunsap said. It's only fitting that a leading technology company like Amazon would invest in its own backyard. We are grateful for Amazon's commitment to our students and faculty, and we are proud to be their partner.

State lawmakers signed off last year on allowing all community colleges to offer a four-year computer science degree, according to the release.

BestColleges previously reported on a study that showed offering bachelor's degree programs at community colleges can increase enrollment — particularly among students with low incomes and adult students.

Bellevue College interim President Gary Locke said that the school's computer science bachelor's program proved to be a tremendously successful pathway for our diverse communities to gain the skills and experience for this high-wage, high-demand field, since it first launched in 2017.

Tech companies have stepped up workforce development efforts in recent years.

Amazon is investing $1.2 billion to upskill more than 30,000 of its employees into high-demand fields by 2025 as part of its Career Choice program. Last year, it announced that it would pay full tuition for hourly workers.

In 2021, Microsoft announced its plan to recruit 250,000 people from community colleges into cybersecurity by 2025. And IBM has, for years, offered internships and apprenticeships as part of a partnership with community colleges. Google offered its career certificates program to community colleges and technical education high schools for free last year.