4 new ways Amazon is supporting our Seattle neighbors
We're supporting the local community with what we call "Right Now Needs," which includes increasing access to food, shelter, and basic goods for children and their families, as well as inspiring and educating kids to try computer science and coding.
on July 30, 2019
At Amazon, we focus on building long-term and innovative programs that have a lasting, positive impact, and we are always looking for new ways to support the communities where we operate. Our goals include helping more young people from underrepresented backgrounds build successful careers in computer science, addressing immediate needs such as family hunger and homelessness, and serving communities in need following natural disasters.
Here are some ways we’re giving back:
1Replacing the recently closed Cherry Street Food Bank, SODO Community Market opened in June and is a new resource for those experiencing food insecurity in Seattle. Northwest Harvest, Washington state’s leading hunger relief agency, designed the space to bring people together and offer a more dignified, grocery store-like experience for those in need of everything from fresh produce to diapers and personal hygiene products. Amazon provided a $600,000 gift to help close the gap for the SODO Community Market capital campaign and increase access to nutritious groceries for more than 5,000 people each week in the new community-oriented space. Amazon’s donation will contribute to ongoing operational costs to keep shelves stocked.
2Since 2016, Amazon has made in-kind and cash donations to its Seattle nonprofit partners Mary’s Place and FareStart. These donations include a first-of-its-kind family shelter within an Amazon building for Mary’s Place, and classroom and restaurant space for FareStart’s job training program for people experiencing homelessness or living in poverty. The collective value of these donations, including annual rent, is more than $130 million, with Mary’s Place alone receiving $100 million in in-kind and cash donations over the next 10 years.
In addition, Amazon has announced an initial $8 million total donation—$5 million toPlymouth Housing and $3 million to Arlington Community Foundation—based in the company's two headquarters regions – Seattle and Arlington, VA. The gifts will support both nonprofits in their missions to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable residents by increasing access to additional housing units for families, veterans, and single adults experiencing chronic homelessness or in need of affordable housing. In addition to these initial gifts – $5 million to Plymouth Housing and $3 million to the Arlington Community Foundation – Amazon will match employee donations through September 30, 2019 to select charities that address housing and homelessness in both Seattle, WA and Arlington, VA.
3In October 2018, Amazon announced an initial $2 million grant and creation of the Right Now Needs Fund – a collaboration with the Alliance for Education designed to give school communities enhanced capacity to meet the urgent and basic needs of students in Seattle Public Schools and eliminate barriers to learning. The fund is designed to directly benefit students.
This summer, Amazon has expanded the Right Now Needs Fund with a new $250,000 grant for summer programming in low-income neighborhoods, impacting hundreds of Seattle’s children and youth.
In collaboration with the Alliance for Education and Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Right Now Needs Fund will extend the support students receive by:
- Expanding Seattle Parks and Rec’s Summer of Safety (SOS) program, which provides meals and access to safe and supportive places in low income neighborhoods for youth who may not be enrolled in any structured programming during the summer (advance sign up is not necessary, eliminating all barriers to access).
- Expanding capacity by 100 youth per day throughout the summer, increasing staffing and supporting the incorporation of youth employment
- Increasing access to Seattle Parks and Rec scholarships for 2019 summer camps.
- Allowing an additional 750 youth to participate in various summer camps across Seattle via scholarships available for individuals and families.
4Amazon is providing 30 Title I Seattle Public Schools with an Amazon Future Engineer Robotics grant to inspire the next generation of computer scientists, with a focus on students from underrepresented and under-served communities. Each of the schools will receive support to launch FIRST robotics teams, including professional development for teachers to learn about robotics, support from Amazon to expand access to computer science education in their school, and a private tour of an Amazon robotics fulfillment center in Kent, WA.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs. Computer science is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds. Students from underprivileged backgrounds are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school.