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Why Oracle Is Building a Public High School on Its Campus

The software giant has adopted a new charter school, and is building it a building right on its own land.


Seventeen years ago, when Safra Catz first joined Oracle, founder and then-CEO Larry Ellison asked her if there was a way to get a high school built on the Oracle campus. A school, he said, where students would “learn to think.”

It’s an unusual idea, but then Oracle is an unusual company. Today, Catz is CEO of Oracle and she has, in a way, finally fulfilled that old assignment. The company said today it will build on its campus a public high school devoted to science and technology education.

The Design Tech High School — or for short — will open in 2017 on a section of Oracle’s corporate campus in Redwood City, Calif. The school launched last year and currently shares facilities with another school, so this will be its first building. It’s a charter school that aims to incorporate technology, design thinking and problem-solving skills into its curriculum to help students prepare for careers in the 21st century workplace. As a public school, the new campus will be part of the San Mateo Union High School District.

The school had already been adopted by the Oracle Education Foundation, and the company’s employees have been volunteering there by teaching workshops on subjects like coding and design. Those Oracle volunteers will remain involved and will work closely with students on projects at the intersection of STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math.

The moment when Oracle decided to build the school on its corporate campus came during a meeting between Catz and school officials last year. “Safra stood up and looked out at an undeveloped parcel of land on the Oracle campus and said, ‘We could build it right there,’” Oracle’s Colleen Cassity, the foundation’s director, said.

Oracle hasn’t said how much it is spending on the effort, but it has a long-standing devotion to education in its philanthropic efforts, and said it donates about $2.5 billion a year worth of software and faculty training to schools and colleges around the world.

Catz talked about the plan in an interview with CNBC this morning.

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