Student participants in the Actua youth STEM program, on hand for the announcement Tuesday of $1.5 million in funding for Actua from Google. (Communitech photo: Sara Jalali)

A place to call home. Money to bring a home to life. Google, on Tuesday, announced plenty of both, all in the name of enhancing the local resources available for STEM, women and kids.

“This investment will be an asset for years to come,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, lauding a donation by the technology giant of, first of all, nearly 4,000 square feet of space on the ground floor of its Kitchener offices for community use and, secondly, CDN$2.1 million in funding aimed at stoking computer-related opportunities for three distinct groups.

“Giving back can take many shapes,” said the mayor. “All these contributions are valuable in community building.

They’re also important because they say something about who we are as individuals and as a community.”

The money, announced at the new Google Community Space, breaks down into three gifts:

  • A $1.5-million donation to Actua, a STEM outreach organization that offers computer science workshops for kids called Codemakers. The donation brings Google’s investment in Codemakers to $3 million.
  • A $200,000 grant to the University of Waterloo’s Engineering Outreach Program for Engineering Science Quest. The program will take place in the Google Community Space and will help local youth build digital skills.
  • And $400,000 in funding to the University of Waterloo to help close the gender gap through programs called Women in Computer Science and the Technovation Challenge, the world’s largest tech entrepreneurship program for girls.

“Whether you’re a student or an entrepreneur or some combination of these, we feel it’s our obligation to give back to our communities and help people advance their communities,” said Steve Woods, Senior Engineering Director at Google’s Kitchener facility.

“We at Google, and many in the tech community, see a clear and urgent need for more inclusivity in our STEM programs and digital skills training across the country.”

Some of the programs that will be funded by Google’s grants will take place in the very space it donated Tuesday, approximately half of which is already being used by the 2702 Rebels robotics team, which put on a demonstration Tuesday after the formal part of the announcement.

“This space fills a gap and addresses some critical space needs for local STEM and non-profit organizations,” said Vrbanovic. “These not-for-profits like to provide programming space for students, parents and teachers in our area who sometimes find it challenging to find suitable space, or the rent for the space they do find is too high to meet their needs.”

As for the the funding, the emphasis overall was on youth and students – particularly female youth and students.

“This money is all about increasing exposure to computing to girls. It allows us to run free events for girls in the community,” said Joanne Atlee, professor and Director of Women in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science.

“It’s also meant to support the students who decide they do like computing in high school and giving them a community. Keeping them involved. Letting them meet role models, so they stay in computing.”

Communitech is a partner of Startup HERE Toronto.  This article originally appeared on their site.