Wakanda, the fictional place in Marvel’s record-breaking film, Black Panther is making an even bigger impact. In the film, the African colony was advanced in the areas of technology and science. The level of intelligence and progression they possessed placed the nation ahead of most countries. For most movie watchers, seeing King T’Challa and Shuri commit to opening a Wakanda Center in Oakland with the intentions of empowering the youth, helped reiterate the importance of giving back.
According to the Department of Education, the United States is behind in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematic) areas. Unfortunately, children in low-income communities make up an even larger gap. Issues like this are what attracted Google.org to step up to the plate, and now celebrities are getting involved and helping kids excited about computer science.
As a native of Oakland, Zendaya has teamed up with Google to help a school fund their innovative computer science program. In 2015, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade open the Roses in Concrete Community School in East Oakland. The school’s mission is to empower students and help them become instruments of change within their community.
The school has already been making a huge impact on the community, and the additional funds from Google will only go to make it even bigger. In 2015, the school received a $750,000 grant from Google.org. Since then, Google has decided to re-invest and the school will be receiving an additional $650,000 for the computer science program.
In an interview with TheGrio, Justin Steele, Principal at Google.org shared how over the years, there has been roadblocks in the way of students of color utilizing new technology. He feels Roses in Concrete are doing their part to push past these roadblocks and offer students opportunities they may not get somewhere else.
“Roses in Concrete captured us because it is intentionally a communally and culturally responsive school. One of the goals of this program and curriculum is for students to be working on computer science projects that address the needs of their community,” Steele said.
Steele also feels with the program, students will have the opportunity to put their brain power to good use. Hopefully, with the energy being directed towards positive activities, it will help decrease crime in the Oakland area.
“It’s like a real-life Wakanda Center. I think one of the real powerful things about people who are raised in Oakland is they come up with a sense of responsibility to the community and responsibility to uplift the youth.”
Over the last few years, Google has invested over $40 million in computer science areas.