Indianapolis Public Schools announced Tuesday that the philanthropic arm of tech firm Salesforce will donate $500,000 to support a new high school academy focused on information technology.
Salesforce.org’s grant will fund technology, including laptops, desktop computers, wireless high-speed internet, and mobile charging devices to support the new academy opening at George Washington High School next fall. It will also fund a “future center” at the school that will help students identify and prepare for post-graduate college and career opportunities.
“We’re thrilled to have a company like Salesforce.org, a juggernaut in the tech space, want to invest in IPS to advance STEM and tech education,” said Superintendent Lewis Ferebee in a media release. “Their support of our effort solidifies our new high school re-design and shows that the business community is ready to roll up their sleeves and make a big difference for our students and teachers.”
Ferebee told IBJ he hopes the grant is the beginning of a more extensive partnership with Salesforce and the rest of the Indianapolis technology community.
“We anticipate this will grow into a sustainable partnership where there will be a continued collaboration between IPS and Salesforce,” Ferebee told IBJ. “We’d like to have as many IPS students on Salesforce's staff in the future, be it internships or other opportunities."
Ferebee said that through the grant, students will have “exposure to what Salesforce means to the community” and learn about the work the tech company does.
The information technology-focused high school academy will focus on preparing students with industry certifications, which means “there are a lot of job opportunities in the tech industry that students can go directly into,” Ferebee said.
“This is something we hope will bleed over to other tech opportunities, particularly with the launch of the 16 Tech initiative in Indianapolis and Indianapolis becoming a growing tech community,” Ferebee said, referring to the recent news that the first development phase of the 60-acre entrepreneurship and innovation district in the city will kick off this fall.
Bob Stutz, CEO of marketing, cloud and chief analytics officer for Salesforce, said in a media release that the company believes in “investing in education to build a workforce that is more equitable, skilled, diverse and future-ready.”
"We’re proud that Indianapolis is home to the second largest Salesforce hub outside of our headquarters, and we’re committed to giving back to the communities in which we live and work,” Stutz said in the release.
The grant from Salesforce.org will also include a teacher training component to make sure educators are trained on the new equipment.
Not-for-profit group Nextech will provide teacher professional development, externships, and student work-based learning opportunities as part of the grant.
IPS said the Salesforce grant is the first of several announcements regarding partnerships at its newly formed college and career academies. More than 20 academies are slated to open this fall at IPS high schools and schools allied with the district. For example, George Washington High School will offer academies in information technology, business and finance, and advanced manufacturing, engineering and logistics.