May 12, 2020

PRESS RELEASE: Silicon Slopes Computer Science Fund to Cover AP Computer Science Exam Fees for Low-Income Utah Students

Salt Lake City, May 12th, 2020 — The Silicon Slopes Computer Science (SSCS) Fund at the Community Foundation of Utah is partnering with the College Board through the provision of up to $10,000 to cover Advanced Placement (AP) exam fees for all qualified low-income students in Utah enrolled in AP computer science courses this year. In addition, the College Board is waiving late fees for low-income Utah students registering for AP computer science exams, specifically Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles.

“AP exam fees often pose a significant barrier for low-income students. By eliminating this barrier we can increase access for students and promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom,” said Alex Eaton, CEO of the Community Foundation of Utah.

According to the College Board, the number of female, rural, and underrepresented minority students taking AP computer science exams has more than doubled since 2016. However, only 567 high school students in Utah took AP computer science exams in 2019. According to data from the College board, only 22% of these students were female, 6% were low-income, and 12% were students of color.

“This is the most wonderful news! Thank you so very much on behalf of our students. They have big dreams and are taking big risks given their circumstance. This is such a support,” Shannon Wilson, International Baccalaureate (IB) Coordinator at West High School, wrote upon receiving news of the exam fee assistance.

"The futures of Utah students should not be dependent on their family's ability to afford exams. This new AP computer science grant program expands students' access to future opportunities in higher education and the workforce,” said Sydnee Dickson, Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “We are thrilled to work with our partners in industry and philanthropy to help students across this great state prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow."

“The College Board shares the belief of the Community Foundation of Utah and Silicon Slopes that every student should have access to evidence-based computer science courses, no matter their background or zip code. We appreciate the commitment that our partners have made to Utah’s AP computer science students, particularly during this challenging time,” said Maureen Reyes, Executive Director of AP for the College Board. “We know students have worked hard all year, and this support will help them finish their AP computer science courses strong and earn the college credit they’ve earned.”

The SSCS Fund was created through generous donations by four Silicon Slopes founders: Aaron Skonnard, co-founder and CEO of Pluralsight, and his wife Monica; Ryan Smith, co-founder and CEO of Qualtrics, and his wife Ashley; Josh James, founder and CEO of Domo, and his wife Marina; and Dave Elkington, Founder and Chairman of InsideSales.com, and his wife Alese to ensure that every child in Utah has the opportunity to access a quality computer science education. It is dedicated to building a perpetual funding stream to achieve this goal in cooperation with Utah’s State Computer Science Master Plan.

“This is an important investment in Utah students’ ability to fulfill their academic potential. Too often, students with financial need put in the hard work to complete AP computer science but are blocked from receiving credit simply because they can’t afford to pay for the exam,” said Skonnard. “We know that financial constraints can sway a student’s decision of enrolling in AP computer science. It’s my hope that this grant removes roadblocks and enables many more students to enroll and complete AP computer science regardless of their family’s income status.”

Funding for AP computer science exams is the second strategic investment from the SSCS Fund. In January 2020, the Community Foundation of Utah made the first grant of $200,000 from the SSCS Fund to the Computer Science Teachers Association to plan, develop and launch equity-focused professional development for Utah computer science teachers.

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting students to college success and opportunity. Each year, the College Board helps over seven million students prepare for a successful transition into college through programs and services like the SAT and AP courses. The organization also conducts research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For more information visit www.collegeboard.org, or email .

About the Community Foundation of Utah

The Community Foundation of Utah is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit grantmaker and serves as Utah’s catalyst for philanthropy by fostering accessible, collaborative, and innovative giving in our communities, now and for generations to come. Since establishment in 2008, the organization has fostered nonpartisan community partnership and has facilitated over $66 million in grants to Utah’s nonprofit sector. For more information, contact Ian Shelledy, Director, at  or 801-559-3005 x2.

###