If Internet infrastructure is the bedrock of the digital city, technology Education empowers residents to fully participate in the digital ecosystem and reap the benefits of its innovations. From basic digital literacy—like sending an email or applying for a job online—to advanced degree programs in computer science, initiatives to support learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) ensure that all New Yorkers are part of the future of the digital transformation of New York City.

Mayor Bloomberg's administration has launched over 40 digital learning programs that have served over one million New Yorkers to date. These programs serve kindergartners and senior citizens alike, across all five boroughs, catering to a range of fluency levels.

The most recent launches include digital literacy programs for middle school students, targeted high schools for computer science learning and the game-changing Cornell Tech campus planned for Roosevelt Island, part of Mayor Bloomberg's pioneering Applied Sciences NYC initiative. Milestone education programs are highlighted below.

STEM Education Highlights

Growth of iZone Program, Serving Students K-12

In New York City, digital learning begins at the kindergarten level, thanks to programs such as iZone, a community of New York City public schools that personalizes the learning experience through collaboration tools, real-time assessment and an online curriculum. At the launch of the Digital Roadmap, the iZone included 81 schools; today that number has more than doubled to encompass a learning community of nearly 280 schools serving thousands of students in grades 6-12.

Digital Ready: Supporting Digital Literacy

To further increase digital literacy and technology sector awareness among students, the City has launched Digital Ready, a technology-driven program that uses new media tools in the classroom and offers internships and other learning experiences with startups. A collaboration between the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and the Department of Education, Digital Ready launched in September 2013 in 10 high schools, using a student-centered model that integrates digital resources into lesson plans, leverages assessment data for instructional decisions, and introduces students to careers in technology through mentorships and career development opportunities with local digital companies. In its second year, Digital Ready will expand to 20 additional schools, including middle schools.

Photo caption: Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott announce 19 schools selected to participate in new software engineering pilot.

Computer Science Curriculum Expands to More NYC Schools

At the secondary level, students interested in an academic or professional career in technology have greater options than ever before thanks to the creation of two new high schools focused on computer science learning, and the expansion of the Software Engineering Pilot to an additional 20 schools. The Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE) was the first school to open in fall 2012, welcoming its inaugural cohort of 108 students. Located in the Washington Irving Educational Complex in the Gramercy Park area, AFSE teaches high school students programming in multiple computer languages, as well as the critical principles underlying each system—enabling them to adapt as technology changes.

New York City's local technology community has contributed enormously to AFSE's success. From the start, venture capitalist Fred Wilson sparked the concept and provided significant funding to establish the school, citing the need for talent in the City's growing digital industry. To guide curriculum development and support collaboration with the technology sector, AFSE developed an advisory board featuring prominent technologists and educators from companies including Facebook, Foursquare and Google.

Fall 2013 marks the entrance of the second class of students to AFSE, as well as the launch of an additional computer science-focused school - the Bronx Academy for Software Engineering (BASE). BASE leverages the successful curriculum template pioneered by AFSE, as well as an advisory board of technology, business and community leaders.

Beyond AFSE and BASE, the Software Engineering Pilot expanded to 19 middle and high schools in September 2013, with courses on topics including computer programming, embedded electronics, web design, and robotics. Selected through a competitive application process that assessed current technology curriculum and potential for growth, the 19 schools include:

  • High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • The Bronx Compass High School
  • The Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation
  • Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology
  • Queens Vocational & Technical High School
  • Cambria Heights Academy
  • Ralph McKee High School
  • New Dorp High School
  • Ditmas Intermediate School 62
  • I.S. 30 Mary White Ovington
  • Mark Twain I.S. 239 for the Gifted and Talented
  • Bronx Park Middle School
  • M.S. 223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74
  • J.H.S. 185 Edward Bleeker
  • Pathways College Preparatory School
  • J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey
  • Eagle Academy for Young Men

NYC Generation Tech

NYC Generation Tech is a program that helps public high school students learn the fundamentals of programming and entrepreneurship skills. In 2013, 43 students completed an intensive summer training program and worked with technology mentors from Warby Parker, AppNexus, Spotify, Google and other local companies to develop mobile applications. The students then pitched their creations to compete for $5,000 and a meeting with Union Square Ventures. The program was developed by NYCEDC in partnership with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Applied Sciences NYC: Landmark Achievements in Higher Education

To support the exploding demand for computer science expertise in New York City, and to assure New York City’s enduring position as a hub for innovation, in 2010 Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Robert Steel launched Applied Sciences NYC, an unparalleled public competition with the goal to build or expand engineering institutions across the five boroughs. The schools established as part of Applied Sciences NYC serve postgraduate students, helping to further develop the technology ecosystem and fortifying New York City’s economy for the future.

The competition offered access to City-owned land and up to $100 million in City capital for world-class institutions to build or grow an applied sciences campus in New York City. Its results were staggering: the initial Request for Expressions of Interest garnered 18 responses from 27 prominent schools across the country and around the world. Soon after, the formal Request for Proposals resulted in seven qualifying responses from 17 outstanding institutions. After extensive evaluation, the City announced in December 2011 that the proposal from Cornell University and the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology was the first winner of the competition.


Cornell Tech

An initiative that has ignited the imagination of New York City’s digital community, Cornell Tech’s mission is to modernize the applied sciences institution for the digital world, combining technology and entrepreneurship learning in advanced degree programs that feature academics alongside industry practitioners. The home of the future campus is New York City’s Roosevelt Island, where the two-million-square-foot Cornell Tech campus will feature sustainable construction and blend seamlessly with the surrounding neighborhood, including 2.5 acres of green space open to the public.

In 2013 Cornell Tech’s first cohort, a seven-member “beta class,” completed the initial year of its computer science Master of Engineering program. The group is housed in space donated by Google, and its term concluded with Open Studio, a presentation of real-world master projects executed with the mentorship of active industry leaders from Betaworks, Google and Qualcomm.

Its work already underway, Cornell Tech is a powerful investment in cultivating the talent needed to fuel the future of New York City’s economy and maintain its status as the intellectual capital of the world.

Photo caption: NYU CUSP. Image courtesy of NYU CUSP

NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress

The second Applied Sciences NYC winner announced was the Center for Urban Science and Progress, a visionary public-private research center focused on the emerging field “Urban Informatics”—solving the challenges that cities face and exploring creative solutions to improve metropolitan life. NYU CUSP’s advanced degree programs will focus on developments in urbanization and digital technology, with New York City as its “living laboratory.” The research center will help to ensure that the best and brightest continue to innovate in New York City and that their breakthroughs and talent are applied across the five boroughs.

CUSP is led by New York University and NYU-Poly, with contributions from partners the City University of New York, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Toronto, University of Warwick, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and technology leaders IBM and Cisco.

Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering at Columbia University

The third and most recent winner of the Applied Sciences NYC competition is the Institute for Data Science and Engineering (IDSE) at Columbia University. IDSE will focus on another rapidly growing, emerging field—data science—and support the launch of entrepreneurial ventures inspired by the program. The Institute’s six centers focus on the topics of smart cities, new media, health analytics, financial analytics, cybersecurity and foundations of data science, with the aim to produce commercially viable technology initiatives and help grow the economy. As part of the program, Columbia will construct a new 44,000-square-foot facility and hire 75 additional faculty members. To support this growth, the City of New York will invest $15 million in critical funding in the form of energy transmission abatements, debt forgiveness and lease flexibility.

View chart of New York City's Digital Education Impact (click to view PDF)

By the Numbers

1M New Yorkers served by 40 digital learning programs
250 schools in iZone program serve thousands of students grades 6-12
180 students in inaugural cohort of AFSE, first new high school focused on computer science learning
$100M million in city capital and access to city-owned land offered in competition to build an applied sciences campus in NYC