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CSTA Awards Chapter Advocacy Mini Grants

Recently, CSTA completed the first round of CSTA chapter advocacy mini grants. These mini grants were given to local chapters for activities focusing on affecting public policy at the state or local level. Successful mini grants included one given to CSTA chapters in New Jersey and Maryland. Funding for the mini grant project was generously provided to CSTA by the ACM SIG Governing Board.

Mini grant applications required chapter applicants to identify advocacy goals and objectives for the proposed project and provide a description of how those goals and objectives would be carried achieved. Applicants were also asked to devise an evaluation plan t measure whether or not those goals were achieved. Applicants were further required to identify the population the project would serve as well as any collaborative efforts with outside agencies or institutions that would be leveraged during the program. Finally, participants were asked provide a detailed project budget.

All mini grant applications were forwarded to a grant committee consisting of five CSTA members. These members carefully read each proposal and rated it according to a rubric which included the likelihood that the project could be replicated by other chapters. All the ratings were combined and then discussed during a conference call of all committee members in early December. The grant awards winners were notified by December 5.

The CSTA Northern New Jersey (CSTANNJ), CSTA Central New Jersey (CSTACNJ) and CSNJ (an outreach project of CSTANNJ and CSTACNJ) were awarded a $3000 grant. The New Jersey chapters plan to partner with Rutgers University and Kean University in October 2014 to create an informational both and presentation at the New Jersey School Boards Association conference. The presentation will focus on the state of Computer Science in New Jersey and the impact of CS on student achievement and future career prospects. Members of CSTANNJ and CSTACNJ plan to hold meetings with legislators, business leaders, educators, parents, administrators, member of local school boards and other educational professionals to influence the direction of CS education in New Jersey. The New Jersey chapters plan to evaluate their program by asking attendees to evaluate the presentation and tracking the brochures and other materials that are distributed through the project.

CSTA Maryland is partnering with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to use the $1000 mini grant as seed money to hold The Athena Conference (TAC) in May 2014. The Athena Conference's goal is to educate female junior and senior high school students and their parents about careers and majors in computing. TAC hopes to enlist parents as advocates for policy and curriculum changes whereas Computer Science is concerned. TAC plans to use the CSTA mini grant money to provide parallel parent sessions during the conference. CSTA Maryland plans to evaluate their project through pre and post conference surveys to measure the participants' knowledge of and attitudes toward CS education and careers. In an attempt to sustain the conference, CSTA Maryland and UMBC plan to put together a planning tool kit that would allow other chapters to host their own TAC event.

Round two of the mini grant application process is currently underway. Chapter leaders can create applications for $1000, $3000 and $5000 mini grants through January 6, 2014.

Dave Burkhart
CSTA Chapter MIni Grant Awards Committee

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