Digital Xtra Fund has opened applications for its eighth cohort of tech initiatives since being launched in 2016.
The charity supports extracurricular activities at the school stage which help drive digital skills. To date, the Fund has secured almost £1 million to deliver coding and tech clubs and initiatives nationwide.
Industry backers include Chroma Ventures, Baillie Gifford, J.P. Morgan, Cirrus Logic, Accenture, ScotlandIS, Skyscanner, and Incremental Group which was acquired by Telefonica Tech last year. The Scottish Government will once again match industry support in 2023/24.
Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s partnership and development manager, said: “We have some amazing support from the corporate and public sectors, in particular the Scottish Government, who realise what a pressing issue this is for young people, employers, and the economy overall.
“Based on the success of previous grant awards, they have once again committed to working with us and our partners by match funding industry support for tech activities in 2023/24.
“With the ongoing cost of living crisis, there has never been a more crucial time to work together and this funding underlines this.”
Digital Xtra Fund is currently in negotiations with several companies to increase the level of funding awarded before successful applications are finalised in May, but the economic downturn has put a strain on all charities.
Mr Brown added: “We are looking for more partners, primarily from the corporate sector, so we’d love to speak to as many people as we can in the coming months. The match funding from the Scottish Government means all support will make a big difference.”
Rebecca Court, Incremental Group’s head of marketing and a former Digital Xtra Fund panellist, who help the Fund select which applications are successful, said: “Digital Xtra Fund undertakes such important work across Scotland.
“The team’s commitment to addressing the alarming digital skills gap while also focusing on increasing diversity and inclusivity in the tech sector, a sector that continues to be underrepresented by women, is key to everyone’s future success.
“It is vital the corporate sector and government recognise that when we support grassroots initiatives, especially for young people, it is win-win for communities, industry, and Scotland as a whole.”
Jamie Hepburn, minister for higher education and further education, youth employment and training, said: “Following last year’s investment from the Scottish Government, we will be continuing to support the Digital Xtra Fund with another £100,000 this year to enable young people to learn digital technology and coding skills through extracurricular activities.
“The work of Digital Xtra Fund and partners provides young people a path into exciting careers in tech and entrepreneurship, and we are delighted to be supporting the work of this organisation.”
Digital Xtra Fund is supporting 35 initiatives during the current 2022/23 academic year covering 24 local authorities. These initiatives are on target to engage over 7,400 young people, of which approximately 50 per cent will be girls and young women.
Mr Brown continued: “Yes, our aim is to inspire young people to learn digital skills and yes, we hope they choose to pursue a career in tech, but that’s not the main reason we do this.
“We do this because we need to support young people and even more so when times get tough, particularly the most vulnerable or disadvantaged.
“While there are many ways to do this, Digital Xtra Fund believes providing essential skills for their future in safe and fun environments is key.”
Schools or organisations interested in applying to the Round VIII grant awards for activities delivered during the 2023/24 academic year can now apply on Digital Xtra Fund’s website – applications close 6th April 2023.
Additional support, including guidelines for applying, case studies, and links to upcoming webinars can also be found on the Fund’s website.