Amazon Web Services (AWS) publicly announced the second round of its Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ID&E) Innovation Fund this week. During this round, the ID&E Fund will award $750,000 in micro-grants this year, with the goal of reaching 25,000 underrepresented individuals through a range of social impact organizations.
During its previous (first) year, the ID&E Fund supported projects nominated by AWS employees around the world, ranging from the U.S. and United Kingdom to Singapore and Israel. Many of the funded projects had themes such as training more women to code or promoting STEM to underrepresented students.
One recipient of the ID&E Fund grant is the nonprofit I founded, Advancing Women in Tech (AWIT). AWIT supports the continued career advancement of women and other underrepresented individuals into senior leadership roles in tech. AWIT also recognizes the importance of building male allies to support its mission. It dedicated its ID&E funding to develop an online course that equips male leaders to effectively mentor and sponsor women.
Kate Watts, Executive Director of AWIT, shared that their work is in direct response to a community need. “Male leaders told us that they are committed to advancing DEI and supporting women, but struggled to know what steps to take day-to-day. This grant from AWS allows AWIT to share practical, tactical steps male leaders can take to demonstrate allyship through action. We all have a role in addressing the diversity gaps in tech leadership; when properly equipped, male allies can be especially impactful in supporting the retention and career advancement of women in tech.”
According to LaDavid Drane, Amazon Web Services’s Head of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, and former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Congress and Board Member of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, “The ID&E Innovation Fund reflects the culture at AWS – our employees 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 large tech company that asks current employees to nominate DEI projects. However, other tech companies also provide DEI grants, including Microsoft’s grants to increase recruitment and retention of minority doctoral students, or Google.org’s Impact Challenges.
Last year, large tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google began to publish their diversity statistics. While increased visibility is helpful, doing so does not create more underrepresented tech leaders. Grants like those awarded by the AWS ID&E Innovation Fund demonstrate just one part of Amazon’s investment to foster diversity and inclusion at all levels.
To learn more about the AWS ID&E Innovation Award, check out: