The Digital Xtra Fund, a Scottish digital skills charity for young people, has opened funding applications for this year’s grants programme.
The fund is offering up to £75,000 to extracurricular digital technologies activities across Scotland. Organisations, including UK-registered companies, charities, chartered bodies, local authorities, schools, colleges, or universities, can apply for grants from a minimum of £500 to a maximum of £5,000.
The grants programme is open to schools and organisations that encourage young people to learn digital skills and ultimately pursue a career in tech. Supported activities must be delivered between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022 and delivered entirely in Scotland. Activities must also focus on engaging young people aged 16 and under.
This year, the grants programme will also include at least two grants focused specifically on cybersecurity skills funded by the Scottish Government under the cyber resilience strategy.
The Digital Xtra Fund’s latest round of applications comes against a background both of widening concerns about a digital skills gap, and a growing threat of cyberattack. A recent survey found that 68% of industry leaders were struggling to recruit, hire, and retain cybersecurity talent.
Applications are open until 14:00 on 22 April 2021.
Digital Xtra Fund Partnerships & Development Manager Kraig Brown said: “2020 was a year like no other. The impact of lockdown, homeschooling and the mass-adoption of online services at an unprecedented rate highlighted how integral digital technology has become in our daily lives.
“It is an essential tool, and we must teach all young people how to effectively and safely use this tool or they risk being left behind.
“The ability to get online or use certain programmes and apps is important, however, will these skills be enough? It is imperative we teach young people to also understand and create with technology, not simply use it.
“We must focus on activities and lessons which teach them skills such as computational thinking, the design process, resilience and, perhaps most importantly, we need to do this in a fun and exciting way to inspire their creativity as well.
“The ability to tailor extracurricular activities makes them an ideal medium to engage young people in tech as was highlighted in the 2020 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. Within the Education and Talent stream, the role of extracurricular activities was identified as a key element to widening the talent pipeline.”
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Nicola Gallen, Business Development Manager for Devolved Nations at Amazon Web Services (AWS) EMEA SARL, one of the Fund’s key supporters, added: “AWS is pleased to support Digital Xtra Fund. Having been involved in last year’s application evaluation panel, we saw first-hand the positive impact the grants programme has on schools and educational organisations across Scotland. This year as a Gigabyte Partner, we’re enabling the fund to support even more fantastic initiatives.
“At AWS we believe that everyone should be involved in building the future and want to inspire as many people as possible to become creators of tech as well as consumers of it. Helping more schools and organisations show young people how exciting tech can be through the Digital Xtra Fund grants programme is something that we’re very proud to be part of.”