In October, this Editor made our annual trek to Oracle’s annual OpenWorld customer conference held in San Francisco. Supply Chain Matters featured many of the highlights of this year’s 2017 conference in our summary commentary.

One area that peaked our interest that we briefly mentioned in an added thoughts blog, regarded Oracle’s social responsibility and community commitments, and specifically Design Tech High School. As independent analysts, we were informally briefed by school administrators that a select group of prospective students of this new concept charter school had complimentary invitations to attend OpenWorld sessions and that students and some of their design projects had the opportunity to demonstrate their projects within the show’s Solution Expo. A video of these students speaking about their projects is available on Oracle’s web site. Design Tech High School- Oracle Campus

This program has far broader involvement and commitment including the opening in early January of a brand-new $43 million school facility to be co-located on Oracle’s corporate headquarters complex in Redwood Shores California.

This enterprise software and infrastructure provider has taken a rather unique approach, namely agreeing to partner with a charter school board, a publicly funded independently operated public school, by collocating this school on its campus. The Oracle Education Foundation, a non-profit entity, oversees the company’s partnership with Design Tech High School, or d.tech.  Last week, the New York Times Technology blog published a report profiling this unique partnership.

This high school initially launched in August 2014 as a California public charter school in the San Mateo Union School District with 139 ninth grade students. Oracle Education Foundation subsequently became involved in developing two-week coding and digital design courses that Oracle volunteers could teach to these students.

A year later, Oracle’s CEO Safra Catz announced at the Oracle OpenWorld 2015 that the company was so impressed with the principles and concepts of d.tech, that it agreed to build a new home for this school within its corporate campus. Oracle founder Larry Ellison had long indicated that he wanted to support a unique high school founded on principles of creativity, innovation, and design thinking.

Construction began in 2016, with the goal of having a state-of-the-art school facility that would support Silicon Valley community learning. When the facility opens next month, this new school will house upwards of 550 students and 30 faculty.

According to the Times article, some school board members and parents had concerns regarding Oracle’s involvement, specifically whether the tech company would have direct influence on curriculum, faculty hiring, rights to student intellectual property or other school decisions. Oracle responded by reassuring the school board that it wanted to embrace the school’s culture, particularly the concept of a design-thinking curriculum approach. The report goes on to indicate that mindful of such concerns, Oracle and school board members have carefully developed policies governing the overall relationship. A school board official is quoted as indicating that the school will not be training students to be Oracle employees or to be consumed by Oracle technology.

The report indicates that the school will operate as an independent entity with a separate building entrance. Oracle owns the land and the building, and has agreed to cover maintenance costs.  Students can additionally partake of Oracle employee commuter buses to the campus. D.tech will pay $1 per year in rent and will manage the building’s operating expenses including utilities and cleaning services. Through the sponsorship of Oracle Education Foundation, Oracle employees and other volunteers will be assisting students on projects that emphasize science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Readers can view a recent YouTube video, Inside Design Tech High School.

There are many corporations and high-tech firms that actively reach out to their communities with involvement and commitment, but d.tech is somewhat unique in its structure and approach.

Supply Chain Matters extends a shout-out to all d.tech students and faculty and trust this new facility will be a center point for tomorrow’s tech leaders and entrepreneurs.

Bob Ferrari

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