“AI is an interdisciplinary field that allows you to use what you learn and create to help others. For me personally, this is the most exciting part about AI and what makes me genuinely feel that it is something that I would like to pursue further as a career.” — AI4ALL alum, Changemaker in AI
After meeting last summer at Princeton AI4ALL — AI4ALL’s summer AI education program for high school students at Princeton University — 11th graders Adithi, Annie, and Vibha started talking about how their schools lacked engaging STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math) curriculum. Inspired to take action, they banded together to address this gap in their communities by creating a new nonprofit called AImagination. This winter, AImagination ran its first STEAM workshops for middle schoolers in a handful of states across the US. The workshops introduced young students to AI through hands-on STEAM curriculum with the goal of “igniting curiosity and increasing diversity in STEM, targeting kids from underrepresented communities.”
AImagination is just one example of the work that alumni of AI4ALL’s summer programs do to build community and to share and expand on what they learned in the summer program. Our alumni have already impacted an additional 2,500 young people around the world through work like this. Other alumni have engaged in significant AI research on topics like AI in the criminal justice system and AI to improve patient outcomes; others have sought internships and learning experiences at technical conferences.
Today, AI4ALL is celebrating our two-year anniversary. One of the core things we’ve learned over the past two years is that by including more voices in the development of this impactful technology, we can help ensure that AI is used to its fullest potential for society’s benefit. We’ve also learned that, while immersion experiences like AI4ALL’s summer AI education programs for high schoolers are a key step to create lasting change in the demographics of the AI field, early exposure to technical concepts addresses only one of the barriers that prevent underrepresented people from entering and persisting in fields like AI. Other key barriers include few relatable role models and mentors and lack of access to programs and networks that prepare and connect underrepresented young talent with internship and job opportunities (Kapor 2017, Microsoft 2017).
To better address these barriers for our alumni, we are pleased to announce today that we are launching Changemakers in AI, the official alumni program of AI4ALL, with the support of a $1 million grant from Prudential Financial. Changemakers in AI will provide ongoing support to our summer program alumni with the goal of helping underrepresented high schoolers get into and persist in computer science and AI programs in college and beyond.
The launch of Changemakers will see the launch or expansion of support for alumni including:
- Access to internships and job opportunities
- Technical skills development
- Connection to a community of peers, mentors, and AI professionals
- Access to leadership grants and tools Changemakers need to foster change for others in their communities
We will track the success of the Changemakers program by measuring our impact on the number of:
- Alumni who have completed a computer science or AI internship or fellowship
- Alumni who declare a major or minor in computer science
- Young people reached by our alumni in their communities through AI4ALL-supported outreach efforts
Prudential’s leadership support will help make it possible for AI4ALL alumni to develop foundational leadership and technical skills within a framework of AI for social impact. In addition to this generous support, Prudential will also provide hands-on learning opportunities for AI4ALL alumni. This summer, Prudential employees working in the tech and innovation space will serve as mentors for the Changemakers in AI, giving them first-hand insight and access to practical applications of AI at work.
Through the new Changemakers in AI program, we will dramatically expand the pipeline of underrepresented young people entering the AI field, which will benefit everyone. Additionally, the young people we serve will have opportunities for financial empowerment and upward mobility through entering this fast-growing field.
“AI technology is used by 85% of Americans every day; however, the lack of skilled, diverse data scientists represents a growing concern in our industry,” said David Goldberg, vice president of Data Analytics for Prudential’s Customer Office. “We’re proud to support programs like Changemakers in AI to create talent ecosystems that value inclusion, diversity and the next generation of AI leaders.”
“We know that young people who are underrepresented in tech fields benefit from long-term support that helps build a sense of community and belonging, professional networks, and exposure to the field,” AI4ALL CEO Tess Posner shared. “We are grateful to Prudential who recognizes this and whose support will allow us to build an alumni program that will help the young people we serve persist and make true, positive change in AI.”
Follow #ChangemakersinAI on AI4ALL’s social media channels today to hear more stories of how our alumni are using their AI knowledge to make an impact on their world.
AI4ALL is an Oakland, CA-based nonprofit that opens doors to the artificial intelligence industry for underrepresented talent through education and mentorship. We nurture a global community of students who learn AI fundamentals, then apply those principles to solve society’s most pressing problems in deeply innovative and ethical ways. By telling a new story about who can be a maker in AI, we’re creating tomorrow’s AI leaders and changing technology’s future. AI4ALL has received funding from Melinda Gates/Pivotal Ventures, Jensen and Lori Huang, Google.org, Prudential Financial, Microsoft, Autodesk, and The Micron Foundation, among others.