By Alison Weiss
Every successful entrepreneur, educator, and dreamer knows there is a sweet spot where creativity and innovative thinking come together—converting an idea into something tangible and transformative for society. But not everyone is offered equal chances or given the skills to translate possibility into reality, thereby solving problems and making life better.
Technology is a powerful tool that opens the world to people.”—Edu Lyra, Founder, Gerando Falcões Institute
Today Oracle has a vision to improve communities and bridge these opportunity gaps—whether they’re due to gender, race, or socioeconomics. The company is spearheading pioneering educational and support programs around the globe, often through the Oracle Education Foundation and the Oracle Academy, to open up new pathways for people to use their talents and technology to change their world.
Vision Gap Closed
One of the most compelling examples of Oracle’s gap-closing vision is Design Tech High School (d.tech), which celebrated its first graduating class of approximately 150 students in a ceremony on June 23, 2018. The ground-breaking California public charter high school was founded in 2014. Any high-school-age student who lives in California can apply for admission by lottery. This year d.tech moved to a modern Oracle-funded 64,000-square-foot facility at Oracle’s headquarters. Serving 550 students, d.tech features a curriculum that embraces project-oriented teamwork and design thinking, a collaborative methodology that uses a solution-based approach to solving complex problems. The school’s driving objective is to develop the creative and technical talent of the future.
Oracle’s connection to d.tech started with the Oracle Education Foundation. Nearly two decades ago, Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison, then CEO of the company, had a goal to establish, on Oracle’s campus, “a school that teaches students how to think.” Meanwhile, Oracle CEO Safra Catz, then executive vice president, wanted to engage Oracle employees in teaching students. Now, in the course of the d.tech academic year, during four two-week “intersession” periods, Oracle Education Foundation instructional staff and Oracle volunteers coach foundation classes to help students design, build, code, and test prototypes of IoT solutions, wearable technologies, 3D designs, games, and more.
For students, learning with real practitioners goes beyond a theoretical education in computer science or electrical engineering, because they learn from professionals who spend their days solving real problems for real customers. And, for d.tech’s new graduates, opportunities are limitless as they take the hands-on learning they gained out into the world to attend college and beyond.
No Limits, More Opportunities
Timeline Commitment to Education
Removing limits and providing educational opportunities is also the mission of the Ponelopele Oracle Secondary School in Tembisa, one of the poorest townships in Johannesburg, South Africa. Under apartheid Tembisa residents confronted high unemployment, drug use, and poor sanitation, and that’s still the case today. The school was founded in 2006 at the request of Nelson Mandela, who aimed to ensure black children’s access to quality education. He asked Oracle for assistance in building the school, which was constructed under a public/private partnership between Oracle South Africa and the local government.
Now the school serves more than 1,200 low-income teenage learners and provides them with a haven and an ideal environment in which to strive for academic excellence, learn technology, and receive training to improve their employment opportunities. Oracle’s financial support has funded a modern computer center and interactive smartboards for classrooms. And the Oracle team in South Africa continues to be involved in career days for students, teaches robotics with Lego technology, and participates in other volunteer programs.
Tech Education Changes Lives
Another Oracle program that targets technological education as a way to give young people from low-income areas new employment and educational opportunities is a successful partnership started in 2016 between Oracle Academy Brazil and the Gerando Falcões Institute, in São Paulo. The institute focuses on helping students from two local public high schools raise their self-esteem, offering a safe place to counter the impact of poverty, crime, and other negative influences in their community. Since its founding in 2012 by Edu Lyra, a community activist and social entrepreneur, the institute has inspired more than 100,000 young people and positively impacted 1,200 families.
Today Oracle has a vision to improve
communities and bridge these
opportunity gaps—whether they're due to
gender, race, or socioeconomics.
Oracle Academy contributes by helping students develop critical computer science and programming skills for college and careers through its Java Fundamentals and Java Foundations courses at the institute. Recently a second group of students at the institute began learning Java programming, entrepreneurship, and English, and they started gaining social knowledge. They are receiving collaborative support not only from Oracle experts but also from young people who have already completed the program and are now pursuing college educations and technological careers. With Brazil’s thriving high-tech industry, employment opportunities abound, and Lyra believes that young people affiliated with the Gerando Falcões Institute now have the skills to take part and succeed in the field.
In responding to requests from government leaders and those supported by the Oracle Education Foundation and the Oracle Academy, Oracle is continuing to identify and launch innovative educational and support programs around the world that enable communities to harness technology to modernize, develop, and improve society. As Lyra observes, “Technology is a powerful tool that opens the world to people.”
Photography by Oracle and Oracle Academy