Leading the Way in AI Literacy

Highlights from the Booz Allen Foundation’s 2023 Annual Report 

In 2023, generative artificial intelligence became a global phenomenon introducing both a sense of promise and potential threats, particularly to those in underserved communities. The rise of GenAI and other emerging technologies—such as data analytics, advanced engineering applications, and cybersecurity—has accelerated the demand for a future-ready workforce.

That said, a skills and resources gap persists. To close the gap, the Booz Allen Foundation supported a movement to help bring along those who would otherwise be left behind, to extend AI literacy, and to expand the impact of programs and grants launched in prior years. In the process, the Foundation engaged Booz Allen employees and built a network of nonprofit, industry, and government partners.  

“We experienced unprecedented growth in 2023 and continued to make progress toward leveling the playing field for underrepresented youth in our neighborhoods,” says Booz Allen Foundation Executive Director Christine Hoisington. “We also explored a new role, that of convener, through which we developed and will continue to develop inclusive pathways for technology education.”

Read on for more highlights from the Foundation’s 2023 Annual Report.

Expanding the AI Conversation
The Booz Allen Foundation adopted an ecosystem approach to increasing equity in AI education, with summits at its core.

“Through our support of the AI Education Project (aiEDU), we convened our first AI Summit in Washington, DC, bringing together stakeholders from Open AI, Google, the Aspen Institute, and U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) STEM, which created a ripple effect for other education initiatives,” Christine says. “The timing was perfect, as ChatGPT was new and introducing challenges to classrooms.” 

The summit provided space for teachers to speak with Open AI, which created ChatGPT, and industry stakeholders about AI ethics and the pros and cons of the technology. They also gained insights into skillsets companies will need in the future.

In addition, the Foundation’s support helped aiEDU develop and scale its “Introduction to AI” course designed to engage, excite, and empower underrepresented students in the DC area.

Deepening Employee Engagement
Booz Allen employees have the power to make an enduring difference in the lives of young people in their communities. The Foundation’s Equity Grants program harnesses this power by encouraging employees to submit proposals for grants to help nonprofit organizations advance their goals for inclusive technology education.

In 2023, the Foundation renewed support for many of the prior year’s grant recipients while identifying 11 new grantees out of 44 total nominees. “We went deeper with initiatives originally launched in 2022 and saw our partners take their programs to the next level by reaching more students and providing more STEM opportunities,” Christine says.

The 11 Equity Grant recipients run programs that engage youth and early-career professionals:

  • The Middle Georgia STEM Alliance via the 21st Century Partnership uses high school robotic programs and interactive activities to allow communities to explore STEM.
  • Blacks in Cybersecurity works to increase diversity within the cybersecurity field.
  • B-360 brings together dirt bikes with STEM organizations, helping youth in Baltimore build transferable skills through education and workforce development.
  • The Endeavor to Dream Foundation develops STEM education programs in communities with limited access to quality resources.
  • The Future Innovative Rising Engineers and Entrepreneurs (FIRE) Program seeks to engage under-represented youth in grades 4-12 in science and engineering, providing them with proficient skills and confidence to succeed in STEM.
  • The Maui Preparatory Academy science department plans to create an outdoor lab space and procure technology equipment for both middle and high school students to explore ecology and biology.
  • YMCA Honolulu plans to layer data science to show students how technology can help protect and nurture the environment.
  • SOUL Programs helps foster awareness of tech and STEM career paths through sports.
  • Cxmmunity Co. supports comprehensive cybersecurity workforce development for students being trained on gaming, cyber, and AI platforms.
  • The UMB CURE Scholars Program advances equity and diversity in STEM education and tech professions for under-represented scholars from grades 6-12 in West Baltimore.
  • Rady Children’s Hospital provides learning opportunities for high school students interested in pursuing healthcare.  

To encourage further engagement with grantees, the Foundation added a new element to the Equity Grants program in 2023: a partnership with Booz Allen’s employee communities. Having the employee communities on board means they can build a legacy and continue to champion the causes they support.

Developing Talent for a Brighter Future
Initiated in 2022, the Foundation’s Pathbuilder Grant program unites and funds like-minded nonprofit organizations serving young people in their local communities. In 2023, Pathbuilder Grants supported four organizations providing programs for underserved youth in Washington, DC:

  • STEM for Her hosted a day full of robust programming, contests, and opportunities for more than 300 local high school young women.
  • Full STEAM Forward partnered with the Friendship Public Charter School Network in DC to provide an online enrichment program to third-grade students.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW) reached more than 7,600 students during the Power Hour, a homework help and tutoring program that enables youth to become self-directed learners.
  • Talent for Tomorrow continues to work to create equitable outcomes through strategic partnerships with schools and corporations.

“The impact in DC was so great that we decided to bring the program to the opposite coast, with the goal of replicating our success in San Diego,” Christine says.

Specifically, the Foundation selected four grantees in the neighborhood of Southeast San Diego:

  • Lincoln High School students met first-generation college students at the San Diego State University College of Engineering Expo focused on STEM pathways.
  • The Elementary Institute of Science leveraged their grant to develop new AI programming, provide stipends for interns, fund scholarships for STEM camps, and more.
  • MANA de San Diego helps to ensure local Latinas of all ages have access to technology resources and STEM careers paths.
  • Girl Scouts of San Diego expanded their outreach efforts and cybersecurity programs to include more students from local Title 1 schools.

Continuing to Drive Progress
The Booz Allen Foundation’s role as a convener is more important than ever in 2024. It provides the framework for grantmaking and for teaming employees with organizations.

“We’re working to empower young people from underrepresented U.S. communities to explore emerging technology and thrive as leaders in tomorrow’s workforce, through place-based grantmaking and collaboration on national-level solutions,” Christine says. “In 2024, we will look to partner where we can make a difference at the hyperlocal level and will continue to convene stakeholders to work toward responsible AI education.”

Download the full report  from the Booz Allen Foundation.