Amazon Web Services’ $750,000 ID&E Innovation Fund Will Create More Job Opportunities for Women in STEM

Amazon Web Services (AWS) publicly announced the second round of its Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (ID&E) Innovation Fund this week. In this round, the ID&E Fund will award $750,000 in micro-grants this year, with the goal of reaching 25,000 underrepresented people through a range of social impact organizations.

In its previous (first) year, the ID&E Fund supported projects nominated by AWS employees around the world, ranging from the US and UK to Singapore and Israel. Many funded projects had themes such as training more women to code or promoting STEM to underrepresented students.

One of the ID&E Fund grant recipients is the non-profit organization I founded, Advancing Women in Tech (AWIT). AWIT supports the continued career advancement of women and other underrepresented people in technology leadership positions. AWIT also recognizes the importance of building male allies to support its mission. It has dedicated its ID&E funding to developing an online course that empowers male leaders to effectively coach and mentor women.

Kate Watts, Executive Director of AWIT, shared that their work responds directly to a need in the community. “Male leaders told us they were committed to advancing DEI and supporting women, but struggled to know what action to take on a day-to-day basis. This grant from AWS allows AWIT to share practical and tactical steps male leaders can take to demonstrate their alliance through action We all have a role to play in closing diversity gaps in technology leadership When properly equipped, male allies can be particularly effective in supporting the retention and career advancement of women in technology.

According to LaDavia Drane, head of global inclusion, diversity and equity at Amazon Web Services, and former chief of staff of the US Congress and board member of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, “the fund of ID&E innovation reflects the AWS culture: our people are leaders and builders who are always ready to roll up their sleeves and take action to leave things better than they found them.

The AWS ID&E fund is the first of its kind from a major technology company that asks current employees to nominate DEI projects. However, other tech companies also offer social impact grants, including PayPal’s Community Impact Grant or HP’s Digital Equity Accelerator to bridge the digital divide for underserved communities.

Last year, big tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google started releasing their diversity stats. While increased visibility is helpful, it doesn’t create more underrepresented tech leaders. Grants such as those awarded by the AWS ID&E Innovation Fund are only part of Amazon’s investment in fostering diversity and inclusion at all levels.

To learn more about the AWS ID&E Innovation Award, see:

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