Cognizant Foundation Commits £1.1 Million to Expand Access to STEM Education and Tech Career Pathway



The Cognizant Foundation today announced £1.1 million ($1.3 million) in grants to five organisations working across the UK to connect individuals from historically excluded and underserved backgrounds with opportunities to develop in-demand STEM skills and gain access to tech careers.


The organisations receiving grants are: Code First Girls, The Forces Employment Charity (TechVets), The Prince’s Trust, Raspberry Pi Foundation and Social Mobility Foundation.


“To be successful in an evolving global economy, individuals must have an equitable opportunity to develop digital and STEM skills, as well as necessary support to enter—and stay—in industries like tech,” said Rob Walker, President of Global Growth Markets at Cognizant. “Our foundation’s investment in these five organisations reflects Cognizant's steadfast commitment to advancing economic mobility and expanding access to high-quality tech training and STEM education in communities across the globe.”


These new grants build on the foundation’s initial UK investments made last year, all with the goal of providing life-changing opportunities for students and jobseekers. The UK grantmaking is part of Cognizant’s broader global CSR commitment to engineer impact for good through initiatives that advance economic mobility, educational opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and health and well-being in communities around the world.

Building the STEM Pipeline of Tomorrow, Today


STEM education is best implemented early in one’s childhood, which is why organisations that partner at a local level may hold the key to equipping young learners with the skills and tools to realise their full potential.


The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) recently found that interest in STEM courses has seen unprecedented growth in the UK, including in subjects such as computer science and engineering—and organisations like the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a new Cognizant Foundation grantee partner, are dedicated to providing computer science and STEM educators with the resources needed to provide students with the high-quality education that is invaluable when exploring STEM-related fields later in life.


Equitable Pathways into STEM Careers


Reports show that Covid-19 has widened not only the existing racial wealth gap, but also the systemic gaps in education and earning potential that are driven by gender and geography. Furthermore, social mobility tends to be more limited in the UK compared to other European countries—signalling less opportunity for the pandemic’s negative trends to be corrected in the long term.


Recognising these challenges, organisations are working to diversify talent pipelines and equip individuals of all backgrounds across the UK with the means to explore and break into sustainable, fulfilling careers in high-demand fields like technology. Leading charities and Cognizant Foundation grantee partners Code First Girls, The Prince’s Trust, Social Mobility Foundation and TechVets work on a localised basis to support both students and professionals, scaling new pathways to economic freedom and social mobility for underrepresented groups.

Quotes from the Cognizant Foundation grantees:


Code First Girls—Anna Brailsford, CEO: “We are so excited to work with the Cognizant Foundation again this year. For the second year running, we will partner to give even more women the opportunity to get involved in tech across our free MOOCs, classes and CFGdegree, and provide career pathways into tech roles for our CFG community. With the support of the Cognizant Foundation, we'll be able to build upon the success of the partnership so far and showcase a career in tech to more of our wider community, actively transforming the tech industry and driving positive social impact globally.”


The Prince’s Trust—Ben Marson, Director of Corporate and Government Partnerships: "We are so pleased to be continuing our partnership with the Cognizant Foundation to raise young people's aspirations and build their confidence and skill set to launch a potential career in digital marketing. Over the past year, our partnership has supported over 100 young people, with more than 75% of participants securing sustainable employment on completion of our digital marketing programmes. We look forward to working together with Cognizant to support even more young people to build the confidence and skills they need to succeed and realise their aspirations.”


Raspberry Pi Foundation—Philip Colligan, CEO: "We are delighted to work in partnership with the Cognizant Foundation to enable young people to realise their full potential through the power of computing and digital technologies. Thanks to the Cognizant Foundation’s generous support, we will grow our network of Code Club and CoderDojo computing clubs that help young people from all backgrounds to learn essential technology skills. We will also expand our groundbreaking research into how to make computing accessible to all, through a study led by the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre that will explore how primary school teachers can apply culturally responsive teaching practices to engage learners from all backgrounds."


Social Mobility Foundation—Sarah Atkinson, CEO: “We are delighted the Cognizant Foundation has made this investment, demonstrating their commitment to making the tech sector more accessible and diverse. In the wake of the pandemic coupled with the rising cost of living it is important that we support young people to access the opportunities they need to thrive. The cost of living crisis is both an immediate challenge but will also have longer term consequences on young people’s access to opportunities. This investment is therefore vital to combat this challenge and will improve skills young people need to succeed. The investment will also enable us to advocate for more organisations in the sector to prioritise socioeconomic diversity. Partnerships such as this demonstrate the tech sector can break the glass ceiling and the class ceiling."


TechVets—James Murphy, CEO: "Digital and tech is critical for the UK’s future prosperity and we are in need of fantastic talented people to support the growth of the tech sector in the UK. I understand first-hand the challenges that military veterans, service leavers and their families face, with so many becoming underemployed, but the Forces community can provide a diversity of thought yet to be capitalised upon in many tech teams and they come with incredible professional skills and experience. Collaboration is critical, and I am extremely grateful for the support we have received from the Cognizant Foundation that will enable my team to widen our reach, broaden our services and increase the impact we can have on so many more people."


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