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Obama CTO touts tech as path to success for disadvantaged youths

U.S. Chief Technical Officer Aneesh Chopra, Lotus 1-2-3 founder Mitch Kapor, and Zach Sims of Codecademy are joining forces to create new ways to help young people--mainly from disadvantaged backgrounds--find pathways into technology.

U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra announcing new parts of Summer Jobs +, a new initiative from the Obama Administration, in San Francisco today. CNET,James Martin

SAN FRANCISCO--President Obama knows that unemployment is rampant among disadvantaged teens, and he thinks that the tech industry can help.

Earlier this month, Obama unveiled what is being called Summer Jobs +, which is "a call to action for businesses, nonprofits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth for the summer of 2012." The goal was to get to a commitment level of 250,000 private-section job opportunities by June.

Today, the administration--along with some new private industry partners--doubled down on Summer Jobs +. At an event held today at the headquarters of Twilio, a cloud communications startup here, United States Chief Technical Officer Aneesh Chopra announced the participation of Codecademy and the Mitch Kapor Foundation, and the creation of several additional Summer Jobs + pillars.

To begin with, Zach Sims, the co-founder of Code Academy--an interactive, online programming education system--said that his organization was pledging, though what is being called "Code Summer +" to help teach coding to thousands of low-income youths and to help those kids learn to create new online applications. Codecademy has gotten commitments from more than 20 tech companies to help with the effort, both by offering students online coding lessons and by agreeing to host meetups where students can learn in person.

Lotus Development Corporation founder Mitch Kapor, discussing his contributions to the Summer Jobs + initiative. CNET,James Martin

Also joining Chopra at today's event was Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation. Kapor said that his Mitch Kapor Foundation was launching a new summer internship program as part of its existing College Bound Brotherhood--an organization that helps increase the number of African-American men headed for college.

Now, the Kapor Foundation will be getting commitments from Silicon Valley technology companies to bring in African-American summer interns, all with the goal of giving those students exposure to new environments and skills that could help them develop eventual careers in the technology industry.

At the same time, Kapor also said that his Level Playing Field Institute, which has been helping talented disadvantaged students interested in science, technology, engineering, or math by placing them for 5-week stints at schools like Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley, will now be expanding into UCLA, the University of Southern California, and by next year, to schools throughout the country.

Chopra also said that the Obama Administration is expanding the job-searching elements of, which has already helped large numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans simplify the job hunting process by more easily tracking down job listings in their areas. More than 800,000 available jobs were tagged in the process.

As part of Summer Jobs +, the administration has gotten the help of private companies to extend to include a summer jobs bank that should help students looking for summer work to find available openings. Part of that process will include coming up with applicable key words that can be used to tag openings. Within 60 days, the jobs bank should be launched, Chopra said.

The announcement by the administration today is the second piece of news in recent days involving government and helping to get young people into technology. Last week, the city of New York unveiled plans for the Academy for Software Engineering, a new high school that will focus on teaching kids to be coders, while also giving them a strong academic education.