Scottish charity Digital Xtra Fund has announced a monetary boost for 22 initiatives to help drive digital skills for young people aged 16 and under in Scotland.
Funding ranges from coding clubs located at four schools in Angus, a ‘Games for Good’ initiative for teens at Heart of Midlothian FC’s Innovation Centre, a cybersecurity initiative for young people at the Aberdeen Science Centre, and a COP26-related collaboration around climate tech with SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs.
Digital Xtra Fund has helped students across Scotland to boost their digital skills over the last few years. In March the fund offered a total of £75k in funding, which was further increased to £100k, towards extracurricular digital technologies activities.
The grants allowed organisations, including UK-registered companies, charities, chartered bodies, local authorities, schools, colleges, or universities, to gain access to a minimum of £500 to a maximum of £5,000.
Kraig Brown, the organisation’s Partnerships and Development Manager said that the Fund’s goal aims to help every young person in Scotland to access “innovative and digitally creative activities,” regardless of gender, background, or address.
“This year’s grant awards are valued at over £100,000 and will now help around 7,250 young people across the country learn about the vast opportunities with tech,” Brown said.
“The past 18 months have really proven the importance and value of what we’re doing, but also shown us we need to increase our ambitions now if we want to reach our goal before it’s too late.
“We want educators, youth workers, and others across the country to be confident in starting a coding club in their community so all young people have an opportunity to learn about digital tech regardless of what courses their school may offer.”
Brown added: “One thing we’ve been looking at is how to scale up the fantastic work we’ve seen over the past five years and support the development of hundreds of ‘tech clubs’ where kids could learn various skills and try different types of kit in informal and creative ways.”
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Since being launched in 2016, Digital Xtra Fund has awarded £725,000 of funding to digital skills initiatives across Scotland, helping schools and organisations engage over 35,000 young people.
Brown continued: “Our model is very simple – we work with our industry partners to identify, finance, and assist tech initiatives across the country. The more industry backing we have, the more initiatives we can support, and the more young people we can engage with tech.”
Companies involved in the initiatives include Amazon Web Services, Baillie Gifford, JP Morgan and, most recently, Chroma Ventures. Other funders include Accenture, BT, Cirrus Logic, Fujitsu, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, ScotlandIS and Skyscanner.
IT and business consulting company CGI has also continued and increased its support for 2021/2022.
Commenting on their involvement, Lyndsey Teaz, Vice President, CGI in Scotland said: “We are delighted to maintain our strong support for Digital Xtra Fund.
“As an organisation we believe passionately in supporting the communities in which we live, and work and it has never been more important to encourage talent and innovation in our sector.
“It is tremendous to see so many young people being helped on their journey and we look forward to seeing the results over the coming months.”
Commenting on Mark Logan’s Technology Ecosystem Review from last year, Brown added: “Mark Logan spelt things out again recently when he described the state of computing science in our schools as an educational emergency.
“It really is that important and we want to be one of the key parts in the ecosystem that brings about real and effective change. On the plus side, it feels like we’re at a watershed moment and things are starting to move in the right direction.”
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