Google has donated $5 million to a program that could help fund Advanced Placement courses in math and science at more than a dozen Bay Area schools.

DonorsChoose.org will distribute the money through a competitive process by inviting more than 800 public high schools throughout the country to participate in the "AP STEM Access program." The program encourages traditionally underrepresented female and minority students who demonstrate strong academic potential to explore science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, courses and consider careers in those areas.

In California, 139 schools qualify to apply, including:

  • In Alameda County: American and Washington high schools in the Fremont district, Berkeley High in the Berkeley district, Castro Valley High in the Castro Valley district, Granada High in the Livermore Valley district and Piedmont High in the Piedmont district.

  • In Contra Costa County: College Park High in the Mt. Diablo district, El Cerrito High in the West Contra Costa district and Las Lomas High in the Acalanes district.

  • In San Mateo County: Mills and San Mateo high schools in the San Mateo Union district, Mountain View High in the Mountain View-Los Altos district and Westmoor High in the Jefferson Union district.

  • In Santa Clara County: Adrian Wilcox High in the Santa Clara district and Santa Teresa High in the East Side Union district.

    "Few things are more important to children's education and to California's economy than the STEM subjects," said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, in a news release. "Our state has always led the way in science and technology, and our future success depends on fostering an interest in these fields among our students. Our classrooms are filled with the leaders of tomorrow, and we must all work together to give every student every opportunity to reach their potential."

    In some cases, students do not take AP math and science courses because they are not available at their schools. In others, AP classes don't reflect the school's diversity.

    The grants, part of Google's new Global Impact Awards, will range from $1,200 to $9,000, depending on subject area. The College Board is working with DonorsChoose.org to assist the qualifying schools' AP teachers in obtaining classroom resources and professional development to launch the new courses. Schools that receive the grants must start the courses in the fall and commit to offering them for a minimum of three years.

    All teachers who increase diversity in their classrooms will receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student who earns a 3, 4 or 5 on an AP STEM test, to be used for other classroom resources.

    For more information and the full list of qualifying schools, visit www.collegeboard.org/apstem.