Richmond-area students attend White House computer science announcement

More than a dozen Richmond-area students were on hand Monday as the White House announced a $200 million per year commitment to computer science education in U.S. schools.

Fourteen students from CodeRVA in Richmond and Chesterfield County traveled to Washington to witness the announcement, which is meant to expand access to computer science in schools. The money also aims to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities in computer science.

“This funding will jumpstart efforts to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of a well-rounded education,”, a national coding nonprofit funded by donations from the likes of Facebook and Microsoft, wrote in a statement. “For advocates of increased access and diversity in CS, this is the culmination of years of momentum that began in classrooms, spread to entire school districts, and won the support of business leaders and elected officials globally.”

President Donald Trump signed the executive memorandum Monday afternoon. The memorandum directs the U.S. Department of Education to dedicate at least $200 million to computer science education while increasing the focus of computer science in K-12 classrooms, Axios reported.

The announcement was originally scheduled for about two weeks ago, but was delayed by Hurricane Irma.

Former President Barack Obama also pushed for computer science education with his Computer Science For All initiative, which called for $4 billion in funding for states. Congress didn’t fund the initiative.

The Richmond region’s representation in Washington comes as computer science education in Richmond is on the rise. The four students at The White House from CodeRVA are in their first year at the new, experimental high school near The Diamond. The school, which has a staff of six and an enrollment of about 100, is focused on computer science and is experimental in nature with internships, year-round schooling and about a 50-50 split between online and face-to-face learning.

The school also features a diverse population, with about 50 percent men and women, which is similar to the school’s makeup of white students and minorities.

Virginia became the first state in the U.S. to pass computer science education reform in 2016 where every student receives access to computer science education from K-12.

CodeVA, a nonprofit based in Richmond that advocates for computer science across the commonwealth, helped create the legislation and was overjoyed by the news Monday. CodeVA is an affiliate partner of

“We’re pleased to see the renewed commitment from the administration to computer science education. Virginia, which has the highest density of computer science jobs in the nation, has long been a national leader in making K-12 computer science education a priority,” said Chris Dovi, the executive director of CodeVA, in a statement. “Our governor and our General Assembly’s commitment is clear by adding computer science as a core K-12 subject in out SOLs, and it’s fitting that Virginia students are represented at the White House event.”

The Richmond-area students who went to the announcement were:

  • Sean Reavis, Robious Middle School

  • Samuel Raymond, James River High School

  • Shalicia Pickett, CodeRVA

  • Alanah Mayo, Providence Middle School

  • Barbara Wyand, Providence Middle School

  • Briana Jackson, Bailey Bridge Middle School

  • Kyndal Townes, CodeRVA

  • Krystal Rubio, CodeRVA

  • Torrence Washington, Elizabeth Davis Middle School

  • Richard Drum, Tomahawk Creek Middle School

  • John Best, Manchester Middle School

  • Kenneth Brake, Swift Creek Middle School

  • Hunter Cumbie, Robious Middle School

  • Jeffery Cumming, CodeRVA

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