Digital Xtra Fund, a Scottish charity backed by both the public and private sectors, has selected 22 initiatives to help drive digital skills for young people aged 16 and under in Scotland.
The funding ranges from delivering coding clubs at four schools across Angus, a Games for Good initiative for teens at Heart of Midlothian FC’s Innovation Centre, introducing young people to cyber security at Aberdeen Science Centre, and a COP26-related collaboration around climate tech with SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs.
Kraig Brown, partnerships and development manager at Digital Xtra Fund’s Partnerships and Development Manager, said this year’s grant awards are valued at more £100,000 and will now help around 7,250 young people across the country learn about opportunities in technology.
“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.
“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.”
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 more than 35,000 young people.
Major funders include Amazon Web Services, Baillie Gifford, CGI, JP Morgan and, most recently, Chroma Ventures.
Other funders include Accenture, BT, Fujitsu, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, ScotlandIS and Skyscanner.
IT consulting group CGI, which has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Borders, has increased its support this year.
Lyndsey Teaz, vice president at CGI in Scotland, commented: “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 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review 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.”
The full list of grants awarded by Digital Xtra Fund this year, which cover 19 local authorities, are:
- Be Cyber Smart, Aberdeen Science Centre (Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Highland, Moray)
- Technologies Inspiration, Arbroath Academy (Angus)
- East Lothian Game Jam, Athelstaneford Primary School (East Lothian)
- Microcoders at Edinburgh Science Festival, Edinburgh Science (South East Scotland)
- Micro:bit Coding Club, Edzell Primary School (Angus)
- Minecraft Education Edition After School Club, Glenboig Primary School (North Lanarkshire)
- Games for Good, Heart of Midlothian FC (Edinburgh)
- F1 in Schools, Kirkcudbright Academy (Dumfries and Galloway)
- Coding Club, Kirkliston Primary School (Edinburgh)
- Knox Cluster Robotics Challenges, Knox Academy (East Lothian)
- Code Versus Climate, Scottish Council for Development and Industry (Glasgow)
- VEX GO Robotics Challenge, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre (Dumfries and Galloway, Perth and Kinross, South Ayrshire)
- Shawlands Academy FIRST LEGO League, Shawlands Academy (Glasgow)
- Girl’s STEM & Robotics Club, Southmuir Primary School (Angus)
- Dynamic Digital Developers, St Andrew’s Primary School (North Lanarkshire)
- Technology Day Events and Coding Experiences, T-Exchange Moray Markerspace (Highland, Moray, Orkney)
- IET FIRST LEGO League Explore, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Shetland)
- Creative Coding Club, Vale of Leven Academy (West Dunbartonshire)
- Mini Digi-Club, Warddykes Primary School (Angus)
- Covid Beyond Covid in Scotland, West College Scotland (East Renfrewshire, Glasgow)
- STEM Coding Club, Westquarter Primary School (Falkirk).
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