Amazon has partnered with Pharrell Williams’ education equity nonprofit YELLOW and the Georgia Institute of Technology to launch the 2022 “Your Voice is Power” music remix competition. Now in its second year, the “Your Voice is Power” educational collaboration underscores the partners’ continued commitment to encourage K-12 students to share their perspective on equity while learning to code new music remixes.
“Your Voice is Power” is an initiative between Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon Music, and Georgia Tech to expand computer science education to students from underserved and historically underrepresented communities. Open through June 19, 2022—students can join the competition and use computer code on Georgia Tech’s EarSketch platform, which has leveraged music to teach coding to more than 200,000 students since January.
“Working with Amazon Future Engineer and Earsketch for ‘Your Voice Is Power’ 2022 helps us to continue to EVEN THE ODDS within education, especially when it comes to racial equity,” said Pharrell. “It’s amazing to see the students completely immerse themselves in the curriculum, and to watch their coding sequences come to life. The cross-collaboration that happens when students share ideas and exchange creative processes really shapes their experience. Participating in this competition is the true meaning of accomplishing more together.”
The experience includes five modules with lesson plans that teach coding while sparking meaningful classroom conversations about the importance of equity and social justice. The initiative concludes with a competition for students to share their voices by remixing Pharrell’s song “Entrepreneur”—a celebration of Black entrepreneurship. Amazon Future Engineer and Amazon Music have worked with additional inspiring artists to add their songs to the EarSketch library since the program’s inception; this competition year, students can also use code to remix Alicia Keys' “Underdog” and Khalid’s “New Normal” as part of their original compositions.
“We’re honored to continue our collaboration with Georgia Tech and Pharrell to help students explore learning experiences that highlight how music, computer science, and entrepreneurship can advance social justice and equity,” said Victor Reinoso, global director, Amazon Future Engineer. “Our work, alongside Amazon Music, has enlisted inspirational artists to help students from historically underrepresented communities build life-changing skills to propel their futures.”
Creating pathways to quality CS education programs
The timely launch tees up the program’s participation in Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), an annual call to action to inspire kids to learn computer science, advocate for equity, and celebrate contributions to the technology field. As a CSEdWeek sponsor, “Your Voice is Power” will host a panel and join “Hour of Code” events during the national observance.
“The ‘Your Voice is Power’ collaboration is a truly interdisciplinary experience that highlights the roles we can all play in the path towards equity,” said Roxanne Moore, senior research engineer, Georgia Tech. “We’re not just building STEM and computer science skills—we’re showing students how these skills can empower them to use their voice and to create their own future.”
Computer science (CS) is the fastest-growing profession within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) field, but only 8% of STEM graduates earn a CS degree, with just a small percentage coming from underrepresented communities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics forecasts that the market for CS professionals will grow 13% between 2020 and 2030, with wages for such occupations well above the average job salary. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for computer and information technology careers was $91,250—more than double the general median annual wage for all jobs. What’s more, Black, Latino, and women professionals remain underrepresented within American science and engineering enterprises. The National Science Board estimates that to be representative of the U.S. population in 2030, the number of women in science and engineering must nearly double, the number of Black professionals must more than double, and the number of Latino professionals must triple.
How to join
K-12 students across the U.S. can participate with their class or on their own. The first round of the competition will run through February 7, 2022. The second round of the competition will run February 8 through June 19. At the close of the music remix competition, five grand prize-winning students from across the country will be announced, and awarded a scholarship or grant to start a business. Additionally, five teachers will be honored with a cash award for providing exemplary instruction during the program. Student remixes will be judged by a panel of Amazon engineers, Amazon Music team members, computer scientists, academics, and music industry professionals. Winners are 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 social justice.
Students and teachers can visit AmazonFutureEngineer.com to get started and learn more about competition rules, prizes, scoring guidelines, teacher workshops, and accompanying curriculum.