NV, NH, NC, PR awarded mini-grants to further CS education, equity

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Expanding Computing Education Pathways (ECEP) recently announced awards for the 5th round of mini-grants. States that are active members of the ECEP alliance are eligible to apply for awards up to $25,000. This round included applications from seven states; four states received funding reflecting a total of $87,458. The four successful applications came from Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and the territory of Puerto Rico.
 
ECEP began offering mini-grants in 2015 as a way to seed initial broadening participation in computing work within states. Funding can be used for the development of landscape reports, state coordination efforts, such as statewide summits, and sustainable statewide professional development opportunities for teachers. The successful applications reflect a wide range of broadening participation initiatives.
 
Nevada to Write First CS Standards
 
Nevada will be convening a team of diverse stakeholders to write the state’s first computer science standards.
 
"Nevada is a standards-driven state. Collectively, our state academic standards define what Nevada believes to be a well-rounded education by detailing what every kid should know and be able to do by the time they exit the K-12 education system. Our standards also lay the foundation for funding, professional development, licensing, pre-service programs, and classroom instruction,” said Mark Newburn, vice president of the Nevada State Department of Education.
 
“In Nevada, the vision of ‘CS for All’ means Nevada Academic Content Standards in Computer Science, so the goal of our mini-grant is to convene the state experts and stakeholders needed to develop a draft set of these standards."
 
New Hampshire Brings CS Summit to Under-Resourced North Country
 
New Hampshire created a follow-up to their highly successful 2016 summit, this time hosted by the North Country Education Services.
 
“This summit will engage teachers working in northern New Hampshire, an area that is under-resourced and often disconnected from educational initiatives taking root in the urban areas of the state,” said Mihaela Sabin, associate professor of computer science and chair of the applied engineering and sciences department at the University of New Hampshire Manchester.
 
This is the second mini-grant for New Hampshire. Their first grant supported the creation of a landscape report.
 
North Carolina to Hold First CS4NC Summit
 
North Carolina was funded for a multi-tiered approach to their computer science initiatives. Supplemented by other funding sources, North Carolina leaders are hosting a statewide summit that will set the stage for a landscape report, a strategic plan and more intentionally coordinated efforts across the state.
 
“The ECEP mini-grant funding has allowed us to leverage other resources to create a landscape report of computing education in our state. We’ll be using our mini-grant funding to conduct our first statewide CS4NC Summit, where participants will engage in reviewing our landscape report to gain some baseline knowledge of the current status of computing education in North Carolina,” said Deborah Seehorn, CSTA curriculum and certification committee chair, and CSTA K-12 CS standards task force co-chair.
 
“The ECEP resources, including the mini-grant funding, have allowed us to undertake this statewide computing education coordination. We are extremely grateful for the funding and for the ECEP cohort collaboration,” she added.
 
Puerto Rico Translates ECS Curriculum and Holds First PD
 
Building on successful proposals in Rounds 1 and 2, Puerto Rico continues to make progress on the translation of the Exploring Computer Science (ECS) curriculum. With this mini-grant the leadership team in Puerto Rico, with support from other trainers, is developing and conducting a train-the-trainer program for 20 participants including mentors in training, in-service teachers and graduate students in schools of education in Puerto Rico.
 
“The support through the mini-grants has allowed us to keep things alive here in Puerto Rico. We had the first train-the-trainer and that’s where most of us on the team fell in love with the ECS curriculum. We found a barrier with the language, we did a translation, and now we’re doing the first ECS PD in Spanish,” said Joseph Carroll-Miranda, auxiliary professor at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras. “Without ECEP that would not have been able to happen here in Puerto Rico.”
 
Future ECEP Funding
 
Looking forward, ECEP plans to offer a 6th round of mini-grant funding to support statewide efforts to broaden participation in computing.
 
“State leaders have identified these mini-grants as a key piece of the strategic work in their state,” said Sarah Dunton, ECEP Alliance Manager. “The funding, while small, is not insignificant. State teams use these funds to launch CS education efforts that position their schools, teachers and states to be leaders in broadening participation.”
 
The funding oftentimes allows states to leverage other resources, including state, federal and private funding.