March 20, 2024 10:29 AM

AWS donates $500,000 to support the Northern Virginia Science Center's Launch the Future Campaign

A rendering of the Northern Virginia Science Center's Habitat Theater.A rendering of the Northern Virginia Science Center's upcoming Habitat Theater and Science on a Sphere® exhibit.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become the Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation's newest Principal Partner of the Launch the Future campaign—joining a broad public-private collaboration to build a new world-class science center in Northern Virginia. AWS InCommunities’ $500,000 donation will sponsor the Habitat Theater and Science on a Sphere® exhibit at the future museum, slated to open later this year.
The new museum, to be in the Dulles Technology Corridor at the Kincora property, will be a place for discovery, innovation, and fun for curious minds of all ages.
An image of the Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation team accepting a check from Amazon Web Services.
“We are profoundly grateful to everyone who has contributed to this transformational effort to create this educational resource for our community,” said Nene Spivy, executive director of the foundation. “It is our collective responsibility to develop resources that fuel our future technology workforce. This extraordinary collaboration with AWS and the many other public and private partners to create the Northern Virginia Science Center will enable exponential growth in STEM resources for families and schools in our region.”
The AWS InCommunities contribution will sponsor the Habitat Theater, including the Science on a Sphere® digital display, which was recently unveiled at an event at Amazon’s HQ2. This sponsorship represents an expansion of AWS InCommunities ongoing support of the Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation and STEM education in Virginia.
March 19, 2024 2:45 PM

AWS commits $400,000 to support local causes in Caroline, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Louisa counties in Virginia

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced that it is launching two AWS InCommunities Funds to support local projects in Caroline, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Louisa counties in Virginia. AWS has committed $400,000 between the two funds to support local causes. Local community groups, schools, non-profits, and other organizations are invited to apply starting April 1, 2024.
The launch was announced at the recent event at Germanna Community College, marking its $35 billion-dollar investment in new data centers in the four counties. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Secretary of Labor Bryan Slater, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System Dr. David Dore, Germanna Community College President Dr. Janet Gullickson, and other state and local elected officials attended.
“As we continue to grow our presence in Virginia, our focus is to not only bring economic benefits through our investments and the jobs we create, but to also support important local initiatives and empower communities with skills development programs,” said Shannon Kellogg, VP of public policy for AWS in the Americas. “The launch of these community funds is the first of a series of community outreach programs that AWS will launch in these, and other counties, as part of our continued investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Through the funds, AWS will support organizations with grants up to $10,000 to support new and existing community projects, focused on one of the following themes: STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education, environmental sustainability, and cultural heritage preservation. Organizations can also apply for funding to introduce community programs that have been successful in other communities across the world.
The AWS InCommunities Funds will accept applications from April 1 through June 1, 2024. The Funds will be managed and administered by nonprofit organization ChangeX. ChangeX will evaluate the projects' positive impact on the community, with a focus on prioritizing projects that are designed to support Virginia's underserved populations.
To apply to one of the AWS InCommunities Funds, and for more information, including details about upcoming information sessions, access the ChangeX platform by visiting the AWS InCommunities Fredericksburg Region Fund or the AWS InCommunities Louisa County Fund page.
These new community funds are part of AWS's longstanding commitment to Virginia. AWS has launched a series of local programs including STEAM education programs for school age children through programs such as AWS Think Big Spaces, educational labs designed to inspire a passion for STEAM disciplines. It has also launched workforce development initiatives to help provide free tech skills training through no-cost programs such as the AWS Fiber Optic Fusion Splicing Certification Course. And, through its employee engagement programs, AWS employees contributed more than 4,000 volunteer hours to local organizations throughout 2023.
March 14, 2024 2:15 PM

AWS’s 'Grow Our Talent' program in Virginia launched my career in tech. Here's how it can kick-off yours.

Written by Brenda Diaz-Ruiz, Installation Technician
My path to working in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) data center in Virginia came from a desire to work in technology, but it didn’t happen in the way I had imagined it. For starters, I never thought I would qualify to work in a data center with zero experience. But here I am, and I am so happy I found my way.
Here’s how it happened, and a bit of background on me.
A photo of Brenda Diaz-RuizBrenda Diaz-Ruiz, Installation Technician, AWS Data Center
I am the second child of Salvadorian parents who immigrated to the United States at a young age. As a first-generation American, my first language was Spanish. Until kindergarten, I needed a translator to follow classes. However, my parents ensured I became fluent in Spanish-speaking, reading, and writing. I learned English at school, and at home, I combined both worlds.
In high school, I decided to pursue IT. I attended Northern Community College in Woodbridge for a year to pursue a career in technology before dropping out to work full-time. I held various roles, including customer service, assisting in medical offices, and pet sitting. In 2020, I worked three jobs simultaneously to help get to a place of financial freedom. The problem for me was that none of those roles brought me closer to my goal of working in tech, and I did not wish to pursue any of those long-term.
In 2021, I applied for AWS's Grow Our Own Talent program, despite having zero data center or IT experience. Once in the door at AWS, I learned Amazon offers immense growth opportunities with constant learning. My onboarding buddy recommended I set short and long-term goals. As a new employee, my short-term goal was to be promoted, which I achieved thanks to a supportive manager. My manager enabled me to start improvement projects for our team, and I continue to learn and grow.
This week, I was honored to have an opportunity to celebrate with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin and 150 community and business leaders in four Virginia counties to celebrate AWS’s continued expansion in the Commonwealth, which will create education and career opportunities for local Virginians like me to find high-tech jobs in their hometowns.
AWS transformed my life. I am currently attending community college again, aided by AWS's benefits—all stemming from the Grow Our Own Talent opportunity. Today, I am an installation technician at one of AWS’s Virginia data center sites. Tomorrow? We’ll see where this career takes me next, but I have big plans, I can assure you.

AWS’s Grow Our Own Talent program

The Grow Our Own Talent program is designed to address the talent shortage in the field of cloud computing. Employees early in their career and external candidates are selected to receive data center operations training, and upon completion of the program, are converted to full-time AWS data center employees. The program offers a range of resources and support, including training, certifications, and mentorship, to help businesses build a skilled workforce and compete in the digital economy.
Once entering the Grow Our Own Talent program, participants receive on-the-job training through an onboarding process and role rotations with data center team members. For example, during her rotations, Brenda shadowed and worked with the data center rack team, followed by a role on the fiber optics installation team. Gaining experience in different areas of the data center operations process is something Brenda sees as incredibly valuable to her career.
Brenda encourages others to apply for the Grow Our Own Talent program in order to try new things that could help in discovery of a new career path. “I’m passionate about the work I do at AWS and I encourage others to be open to learning new things,” said Diaz-Ruiz. “My life has changed so much since working at AWS, because I can only go up from here.”
“Coming into the Grow Our Own Talent program with zero technical data center experience is ok, and the AWS data center team will guide and set program participants up for success,” said Desiree Toler, an AWS senior manager of Infrastructure Delivery. "[Grow Our Own Talent] provides the training and development structure that will help program members grow.”
Like many Amazonians, Brenda is involved in employee programs, including the employee-led “Women at Data Center” affinity group, a community within Amazon for both business and technical employees interested in increasing gender diversity at Amazon. The mission of Women at DC is to make Amazon the premier global destination for women across job functions, of which Brenda is involved in.
November 13, 2023 9:14 AM

Loudoun County Public Schools showcases new AWS Think Big Space, demonstrates continued leadership in STEAM

A photo of students visiting the AWS Think Big Space in at J. Lupton Simpson Middle School in Leesburg, Virginia. There is a student in the forefront of the photo trying on virtual reality goggles, and students talking with several teachers in the background.AWS Think Big Space in Leesburg, Virginia
J. L. Simpson Middle School in Leesburg, Virginia, hosted a showcase of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) Think Big Space, to highlight the impact the space has made among students, educators, and the wider community since the space opened in December 2022.
The new AWS Think Big Space, a collaboration between AWS, Loudoun Education Foundation, and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), is a 2,100-square-foot educational lab for students and educators to explore innovative and imaginative ideas through interactive hands-on technical education and cloud computing training. This new space, grounded in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) disciplines, is accessible to students throughout Loudoun county. It also serves as a space to upskill educators and to connect LCPS programs with the wider community.
Since the space opened, it has served more than 600 educators through professional development programs, 2,200 elementary and middle school students through STEAM curriculum, and has hosted nearly 50 local business owners to discuss local workforce needs to inform curriculum and prepare students for future tech careers.
A photo of a student learning how to fly a drone at the AWS Think Big Space at J. L. Simpson Middle School in Leesburg, Virginia.
The AWS Think Big Space is part of LCPS larger efforts to drive STEAM education. LCPS is a national leader in K-12 computer science education. It first integrated computer science curriculum across all subject areas in three local elementary schools in 2017. Since then, through a $2.4 million GO Virginia grant, LCPS education leaders helped create the Virginia K-12 Computer Science Pipeline, focusing on teaching students computational thinking and problem solving early to prepare them for careers in technology.
Given the early success of the new space, AWS made a surprise donation of $25,000 to LCPS for additional technology and classroom equipment. In addition, it provided another $25,000 to Loudoun Education Foundation for its Innovation in Education Grant program, which provides $500 to $1500 grants to educators to help pay for supplies needed to support their innovative lesson plans. The AWS Think Big Space at J. Lupton Simpson Middle School is the third space funded by Amazon in Virginia but the first in Loudoun County.
November 13, 2023 8:47 AM

After 5 years, AWS Girls’ Tech Day continues to help girls dream of careers in STEAM

A photo from the 5th AWS Girls Who Tech event.
AWS Girls’ Tech Day kicked-off its global series of events this fall at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Prince William County, Virginia. This year, Girls’ Tech Day in Virginia broke attendance records, bringing together more than 600 middle school girls to inspire in them an interest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM).
A photo from the 5th AWS Girls Who Tech event.
Currently in its fifth year, the program was developed in 2018 to spotlight the need for more girls to pursue STEAM careers. It pioneered as a free, half-day learning event that combined panel discussions with trailblazing women and interactive activities to expand awareness of future career possibilities. Since then, the program has gone global, reaching nearly 14,000 girls and young women across 30 countries.
A photo from the 5th AWS Girls Who Tech event.
For this year’s event, AWS partnered with local school districts across Northern Virginia. Highlights include students piloting drones to play tic-tac-toe, coding robots to pick up and deliver packages in a simulated disaster zone, and learning about the latest cloud technologies that help first responders and humanitarian agencies during natural disasters.
“By the time these girls reach adulthood, the technologies we are familiar with today will likely have evolved dramatically,” said Diya Wynn, Senior Practice Manager for Responsible AI, AWS. “It is critical we help inspire and educate young women–as well as learners of diverse backgrounds–so they have the opportunity to participate in this evolution.”
October 30, 2023 8:00 AM

New Refrigerated Van Enables Northern Virginia Family Service to Provide More Food Assistance to Local Residents

As food banks and community organizations in Virginia continue to face unprecedented demand, Amazon remains committed to working with local organizations that share our commitment to food access.
Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have partnered by hosting a food distribution pop-up event to bring fresh food to residents of Elevations One Apartments in Woodbridge, Virginia. The event was made possible by NVFS’s new refrigerated van, donated by AWS, which has helped expand its mobile food pantry capacity, transporting food donations and delivering food to seniors and families in need.
Stephanie Berkowitz, president and CEO of NVFS, cites the rising costs of day-to-day living and the recent termination of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotment benefits as reasons why many families in the region have slipped into financial hardship. Berkowitz said NVFS has seen an increase of 25 percent in the number of families seeking food assistance. “We are thankful for the collaborative efforts of AWS in helping us increase access to food and reach more communities across Virginia,” she said.
NVFS and AWS employees have packed and distributed 250 bags of fresh fruits, vegetables, dry goods, and meats, and hosted fun activities at the pop-ups. AWS volunteers have organized and assembled food bags, supervised children’s games, and assisted with book giveaways and raffle prizes. NVFS staff and volunteers have also educated community members on resources available to help residents and families facing food insecurity in the DMV region.
October 12, 2023 3:59 PM

AWS economic impact in the U.S.

August 8, 2023 11:19 AM

AWS-Sponsored Climate Resilience Fellowship kicks off at Amazon's HQ2

A photo of participants of the AWS sponsored Halcyon Climate Resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean Fellowship at Amazon's second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
We hosted participants of the AWS sponsored Halcyon Climate Resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean Fellowship at HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia. This incredible group of visionaries is working to combat the impacts of climate change through a number of innovative technologies while utilizing the power of AWS technology along the way. This class of fellows spans an impressive array of solutions, from climate change insurance, to natural refrigeration, sustainable finance, Lithium-Ion battery re-use, and new developments in composting. We can’t wait to see how they build on these ideas in the coming year!
August 3, 2023 4:24 PM

How small businesses grow alongside AWS in Northern Virginia

When a data center opens, it creates new jobs and opportunities in the surrounding areas, supporting local businesses and drawing in new residents. For example, AWS relies on more than 100 Virginia businesses to support the construction and operation of data centers. And more than 8,800 AWS employees in Virginia means more business for Jimmy Cirrito, owner of Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern in Herndon, Virginia.
“Coming from a tavern owner, the most expensive thing we have in here is an empty seat," Cirrito said. "We want to keep these bar stools and these chairs filled as often as we can. It helps to have people moving into the town or coming here to work that want to come out.”
June 30, 2023 10:56 AM

AWS employees volunteer at Northern Virginia’s Hunger Resource Center

A photo of Mishtee Chatterjee, director of infrastructure operations at an AWS data center, and two other Amazon employee volunteers sorting donated food.Mishtee Chatterjee and other AWS employee volunteers sort food for the Northern Virginia Family Service.
Our AWS employees are connected to their communities in lots of ways. For Mishtee Chatterjee, director of infrastructure operations at an AWS data center in northern Virginia, that means volunteering at the Hunger Resource Center, which distributes food to more than 400 area families a month.
Chatterjee is one of a number of AWS employees who volunteer at the hunger center, a part of the Northern Virginia Family Service. “It helps me really feel connected,” Chatterjee said about sorting donated food. “I have a family, I have two kids. They're growing up here in the community and I want to set a good example for them to be a better neighbor and to serve the community as they are growing up.”
June 19, 2023 1:30 PM

How AWS helped an Afghan refugee rebuild his life in Northern Virginia

When Muhammad Fardeen and his family were forced to leave Afghanistan, they began a new life in Virginia. His talent for problem solving landed him a job at an Amazon Web Services data center that’s now paving a path for his future. Read more about Fardeen's story.
June 15, 2023 9:00 AM

Why AWS is proud to call Virginia home

Since its launch in 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been constructing and operating data centers in Virginia. The facilities are a key part of the infrastructure needed to provide cloud computing power to customers. From 2011–2021, we've invested $51.9 billion in the state—supporting local jobs, generating economic growth, providing skills training and education, and unlocking opportunities for local businesses and suppliers. In January, AWS announced that it plans to invest an additional $35 billion in Virginia to establish multiple data center campuses by 2040. We’re committed to the community and proud to call Virginia home.
Read more about how we work with the local community in northern Virgina.