Digital Xtra Fund, which fosters young people's digital skills, unveils latest initiatives to secure backing

Digital Xtra Fund, a Scottish charity supported by the public sector and firms such as Baillie Gifford, JP Morgan, BT and Skyscanner, has selected 22 initiatives to help drive digital skills for young people.

The Linlithgow-based organisation’s aim is for every young person in Scotland to have access to innovative and digitally creative activities, regardless of their gender, background, or where they live.

Among the newly announced initiatives chosen are coding clubs at four schools across Angus, a Games for Good initiative for teens at Heart of Midlothian FC’s Innovation Centre, introducing hundreds of young people to cyber security at Aberdeen Science Centre, and a COP26-related collaboration around climate tech with SCDI’s Young Engineers and Science Clubs.

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From left: Kraig Brown, Maha Abhishek (both of Digital Xtra Fund), Kelly Gardner (Heart of Midlothian FC) and John Wordsworth-Goodram (CGI). Picture: David Mollison.

Kraig Brown, Digital Xtra Fund’s partnerships and development manager, said: “This year’s grant awards are valued at over £100,000 and will now help around 7,250 young people across the country learn about the vast opportunities with tech.”

Digital Xtra Fund has, since its launch in 2016, awarded £725,000 of funding to digital-skills initiatives across Scotland, helping schools and organisations engage more than 35,000 people aged 16 and under.

Mr Brown added: “The past 18 months have really proven the importance and value of what we’re doing, but also shown us we need to increase our ambitions now if we want to reach our goal before it’s too late.

"One thing we’ve been looking at is how to scale up the fantastic work we’ve seen over the past five years and support the development of hundreds of ‘tech clubs’ where kids could learn various skills and try different types of kit in informal and creative ways.”

Major backers of the Fund also include AWS, Chroma Ventures, Accenture, Cirrus Logic, Fujitsu, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, and ScotlandIS.

Furthermore, IT and business consulting services firm CGI, which has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Borders, has continued and increased its support for 2021/2022.

Lyndsey Teaz, vice-president of CGI in Scotland, said: “We believe passionately in supporting the communities in which we live and work and it has never been more important to encourage talent and innovation in our sector.”

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