The results are in. After listening to music remixes from more than 1,500 applicants, representing middle and high schools across the U.S. and Canada, judges have selected the winners of the “Your Voice is Power” music remix competition.
Amazon teamed up with YELLOW, the education equity nonprofit founded by visionary recording artist Pharrell Williams, and the Georgia Institute of Technology to launch the program. The collaboration encourages students to voice their opinions on social justice and equity through music while learning how to code.
“Your Voice is Power” provides both students and teachers an introduction to real-world computer science applications, as well as opportunities to explore how music, computer science, and entrepreneurship can be tools to advance racial justice. The collaboration is the latest initiative from Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon Music, and Georgia Tech to expand computer science education to more students from underserved communities and groups that are currently underrepresented in tech.
The five grand prize-winning students were awarded a scholarship or a grant to start a business, while five teachers were honored for going above and beyond to help their students. The students and teachers are from schools in Georgia, Illinois, Florida, Texas, California, and Ontario.
“We’re honored to work alongside Georgia Tech and Pharrell, continuing our efforts to expand computer science education to more students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech,” said Victor Reinoso, global director of Amazon Future Engineer. “We look forward to continue working with Amazon Music and more artists to support education and racial equality initiatives, and help students build life-changing skills that leverage computer science to propel their futures.”
The “Your Voice is Power” program includes five teaching modules with lesson plans that teach coding and music, and also kick-start meaningful conversations among students and their teachers about the importance of racial justice.
The spring 2021 program concluded with the competition, where students shared their own voices through remixing Pharrell Williams’ song “Entrepreneur.” Students used computer code on Georgia Tech’s learn-to-code-through-music platform, EarSketch, which has reached more than 132,000 students since January. Beyond the competition and throughout 2021, Amazon Future Engineer and Amazon Music will work with additional inspiring artists to add their songs to the EarSketch library.
"Through this wonderful collaboration with Amazon Future Engineer and EarSketch, we are grateful that so many students got to not only experience coding for the first time, but also learned about social justice in an impactful way,” said Stacey Lopez, chief operating officer at YELLOW. “It is our hope that all students who participated will now share their learned knowledge with others to make changes right in their own communities. The winners' selections were outstanding, and YELLOW is proud of the dedication from all student and teacher participants."
Grand prize winners were awarded a $5,000 scholarship or a grant to start a business.
- Beyuti Burrows from Martha Ellen Stillwell School of the Arts in Jonesboro, Georgia.
- Jasmine Jenkinson from Georgian Bay District Secondary School in Midland, Ontario.
- Samuel Kuran from North Springs High School in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Diego Martinez from Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois.
- Eryon Panier from Palm Beach Gardens Community High School in Riviera Beach, Florida.
Additionally, five teachers were recognized with a $1,000 cash award for aboveand beyond instruction while teaching the “Your Voice is Power” program, including:
- Anastassia Gritsenko from Palm Beach Gardens Community High School in Riviera Beach, Florida.
- Lanetha Jefferson from Teague Middle School in Humble, Texas.
- Darryl Newhouse from James A Foshay Learning Center in Los Angeles, California.
- Turner Ruetz from St. Anthony’s School in Kincardine, Ontario.
- Amy Wozniak from Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago, Illinois.
Student remixes were judged by a panel of Amazon engineers, Amazon Music team members, computer scientists, academics, and music industry professionals. Winners were chosen based on the quality of music, complexity and organization of their code, and their inclusion of thoughtful messaging and calls to action about the importance of racial justice. More than $35,000 was distributed in prizes and cash awards during the competition.
“We are so inspired by the teachers and students who participated in this program,” said Roxanne Moore, a senior research engineer at Georgia Tech and the partnership lead for the “Your Voice is Power” program. “The creativity exhibited in these remixes and their messaging is phenomenal.”
The need for high quality computer science education is more important than ever. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that from 2014 to 2024, the market for computer science professionals would grow twice as fast as the rest of the labor market. The bureau research also shows that in 2019, the median annual salary for computer science occupations was approximately $48,000 greater than the median wage for all occupations in the U.S.
What’s more, while the number of Black students obtaining degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM) has increased over the last two decades, Black professionals remain underrepresented within American science and engineering enterprises. The National Science Board estimates that the number of Black professionals in science and engineering needs to more than double to be representative of Black people in the U.S. population in 2030.
Amazon Future Engineer is developing programs to help. The childhood-to-career computer science education program is intended to inspire and educate millions of students globally, including hundreds of thousands of students in the U.S. each year. Students explore computer science through school curriculum and project-based learning, using code to make music, program robots, and solve problems. Amazon Future Engineer also awards 100 students each year with four-year, $40,000 scholarships and paid internships at Amazon, as well as honoring 10 Teacher of the Year Award winners with more than $30,000 for themselves and their schools.
For 2021, Amazon has a goal to reach 1.6 million students from historically underrepresented communities globally through Amazon Future Engineer with real-world-inspired virtual and hands-on computer science project learning. The program is currently available in the U.S., the UK, France, and Canada.
Visit Amazon Future Engineer for more information about “Your Voice is Power” and the full list of rules, prizes, scoring guidelines, and accompanying curriculum.