Charity's funding supports dozens of digital skills initiatives for young people across Scotland

A Scottish charity backed by the public and corporate sectors has awarded funding to support dozens of digital skills initiatives for young people across Scotland.

Digital Xtra Fund has distributed 35 grants to cover 24 local authorities, including 23 primary schools, three secondary schools, three higher education organisations, two libraries, and four additional educational bodies, totalling some £150,000. The grants, which will help deliver digital skills initiatives throughout the current academic year, are up from 22 last year when total funding amounted to £100,000.

Supported initiatives include a coding club at Hillside Primary School in Aberdeenshire, an all-girls after school robotics club at Kirkliston Primary School in Edinburgh in partnership with Scottish start-up Robotical, a Lego Leaders Code Club at St Joseph’s RC Primary School in Dundee, a coding club at Stromness Academy in Orkney using Otto robots, and a joint coding club with Cadder and St Mary’s Primary Schools in Glasgow.

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Since being launched in 2016, Linlithgow-based Digital Xtra Fund has awarded £875,000 of funding, helping schools and organisations engage more than 40,000 young people. From the corporate sector, major funders include Baillie Gifford, CGI, Chroma Ventures, JP Morgan and Scotland Women in Technology, as well as Accenture, Cirrus Logic, Incremental Group, ScotlandIS and Skyscanner.

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Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s partnerships and development manager, said: “We’re extremely pleased to be able to support many more initiatives this year, as well as a wider range of activities. This year’s applications show a renewed appetite for digital skills initiatives after a challenging couple years. We know we need to positively engage more of Scotland’s young people with digital tech to help them reach their potential in the future economy and an increasingly digital world, and extracurricular activities are the perfect medium to do this.”

Sam Pattman, philanthropy manager, Baillie Gifford, said: “Baillie Gifford is very pleased to continue its support of Digital Xtra Fund. Through our business, we know the importance of digital skills and ensuring young people are prepared for what’s ahead of them. Extracurricular activities can reach and engage a wider range of young people, as demonstrated by the variety of grant recipients this year.

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“We have always been impressed by the charity’s ambition and its reach across Scotland, and look forward to hearing more from the supported initiatives as the year moves forward.”

Last year, Digital Xtra Fund also secured funding from the Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland to match fund industry’s support, on the back of 2020’s Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review by Mark Logan which recommended that school stage extracurricular tech activities be strategically supported.

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Local kids learning digital skills at Heart of Midlothian FC's Innovation Centre. Picture: David Mollison

Business minister Ivan McKee said: “The Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review called for action to encourage more young people and girls into Computing Science. The Scottish Government’s £100,000 funding will support these 35 projects to drive digital skills development. We hope this will inspire a new generation of tech entrepreneurs by boosting digital skills for young people across Scotland.”

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A digital engineers club at North East Scotland College in Aberdeenshire is another of the initiatives attracting support.

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