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Amazon gives $3M to Seattle area colleges in support of computer science degrees

Bellevue College computer science program chair Fatma Cemile Serçe, center, works with students. Photo from Bellevue College

Amazon donates $3 million for colleges and universities in Seattle to support their computer science departments.

Bellevue College, located east of Seattle, will receive $1.5 million over three years to support its bachelor’s of science in computer science. The program currently has 155 undergraduates. It launched in 2017 and now has $1.5 million over three years. It will help increase financial aid for the enrolled students as well college outreach to K-12 student.

The Seattle College Foundation will also receive $1.5 million to help fund its newly launched bachelor’s of arts in computer science. North Seattle College welcomed its 20th class to pursue the degree this fall.

Amazon had donated $1 million previously to this effort. It helped finance the recruitment and training of a leading faculty member.

“At Amazon, we know the importance of access to computer science education. This investment will help remove barriers historically under-resourced populations have faced and provide greater opportunity for local students to pursue careers in the technology sector,” said Victor Reinoso, global director of Amazon’s philanthropic education initiatives, in announcing the Seattle College Foundation gift.

Amazon funds colleges that offer degrees in tech, which are typically less costly than universities. Additionally, they tend to attract a larger student population.

Washington students are highly interested in computer science degrees. The nationally ranked Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington accepts about 7% of the direct applicants to its undergraduate program. Popular computer science degrees are also offered by the UW branches and other universities.

Bellevue College is the only Washington college so far to offer a bachelor’s of science in the field. The college tuition is generally lower than that at universities. A computer science student at Bellevue College pays $7,266 in tuition and fees per annum, compared with $12,076 at the University of Washington.

High wages and increased employment opportunities will drive the growing demand for computer science degrees among educators.

According to a report by the Computing Technology Industry Association, Washington, there are 333,000 IT jobs. This includes tech roles, as well as jobs that may require technical skills, and according to a report published in 2022 by CompTIA. Workers specifically in tech roles had a median salary of $124,653 — an income 147% higher than the state median.

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