Roses in Concrete Community School is a progressive institution aiming to develop a first-of-its-kind computer science curriculum in East Oakland, California in order to promote minority involvement in the field. The school received a $750,000 grant from to launch their new endeavor, and has now been awarded an additional $650,000 for expansion. 

The school was founded by Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade; the goal was to teach young students that they not only could utilize education to change their communities, but also the world. On March 16, as Google’s San Francisco’s community space awarded the school a $650,000 grant for its computer science curriculum, teachers, students, education advocates, and actress Zendaya were present to demonstrate solidarity and support of the school’s mission. 

“The curriculum will be culturally and community relevant, building on Duncan-Andrade’s philosophy that education shouldn’t push students out of communities, but should instead help students transform them,” Google representative Adrian Schurr wrote in a blog post. 

The computer science program is intended to resist the notion that Black and Latino students are not interested in learning computer science, and aims to increase representation within the field. The program, and school itself, will serve as a model for other communities, and with its innovative curriculum, Roses in Concrete Community School strives to serve as the example for other schools to follow. 

When speaking on the school’s mission, Shurr wrote: “We can identify more ways to provide meaningful Computer Science experiences to students of color, and by doing so, provide pathways for them to grow, thrive, and create change – in their own communities and around the world.”

The students, teachers and community celebrated by watching dance, art, and poetry performances. Oakland native Zendaya, who has been a vocal supporter of the school’s programs and goals from the beginning, commented on her appreciation for the school’s commitment to representation and equity. 

Weeks ago, Zendaya also took 200 students from Roses in Concrete Community School, as well as Fruitvale Elementary School, to see “A Wrinkle in Time,” which centers around a young black girl, who was raised by scientists, journeying to find her father and herself. 

Back in Oakland with @Zendaya where she took 200 kids from Roses In Concrete Community School and Fruitvale Elementary School to see A Wrinkle In Time. 

Z, your generosity explodes from such a beautiful and compassionate place in your heart. I am so proud to call you my friend.— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) March 18, 2018

At the school last week, Zendaya encouraged students to, “Always lead with your heart and chase the happiness that fuels you.”