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Microsoft invests $500,000 in coding and tech training for students of colour

Firm's support will open Seattle chapter for Black Girls Code and boost Technology Access Foundation's STEM program

Microsoft has announced it will pour half a billion dollars into two initiatives designed to improve the technology and STEM skills among students of colour.

In an announcement via LinkedIn, the corporation revealed it would be partnering with Black Girls Code, a non-profit organisation formed seven years ago to create coding clubs for young and pre-teen girls of colour.

The venture was created by Kimberly Bryant, is led by women engineers of colour, and operates activities in 13 US cities. Microsoft's investment will open a 14th chapter in the firm's hometown of Seattle.

The company is also furthering its established partnership with Technology Access Foundation, an organisation led by former Microsoft exec Trish Millines Dziko that began as an out-of-school program for students of colour in Seattle.

Microsoft's investment has been specifically allocated to STEMbyTAF, the scheme that aims to replicate the achievements of the TAF school at other educational institutes in the area.

In the announcement, corporate VP and lead for Microsoft Philanthropies Mary Snapp wrote: "The partnerships build on Microsoft's long-term commitment and responsibility to help ensure every young person has access to computer science education, from all gender, racial, ethnic, geographic and income backgrounds.

"Kimberly and Trish are extraordinary role models for young women of color and have made it their life's work to ensure all students of color - especially black and brown girls - have the access, encouragement and support they need to pursue careers in technology. To do so, both believe these students need more culturally relevant learning opportunities that include mentoring and relationship building with teachers and adult engineers that look like them and have shared experiences as women of color."

While these schemes broadly explore STEM skills rather than games-specific disciplines, their implications for the industry are important. The need for greater diversity is an ongoing discussion across the games world, and STEM-trained talent is vital in accomplishing this.

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