The modern computer science education movement, commonly referred to as Computer Science for All or #CSforALL, has been gaining momentum nationwide since 2004 and is poised to be the most significant upgrade to the US education system in history.
History is recorded and codified through the journalism, social media, and public policy, and tends to emphasize the voices of those already in the public eye. Moreover, we know that media frequently amplifies the loudest voice in the room, and often misses the contributions of those without social capital and power, including women and minorities. Recent films like Hidden Figures and The Computers show this phenomenon by documenting the lost history of women’s contributions to engineering and technology fields.
Unfortunately, reporting on the Computer Science for All movement is already showing evidence of the erasure and dismissal of the contributions of educators, and in particular women and minorities.
On March 3, 2019, 60 Minutes ran a segment on increasing girls’ participation in computer science that excluded the contributions of all of the women-led organizations working to increase girls’ involvement in tech. The segment credited Code.org with solving the problem “once and for all,” sparking nationwide outrage and pushback from community stakeholders including Girls Who Code, littleBits, AnitaB.org, NCWIT, and CSforALL.
Even more damaging, the 60 Minutes piece incorrectly claimed that the number of women majoring in computer science has declined. The number of women receiving undergraduate degrees in computer science has quadrupled since 2009 thanks to efforts of organizations like the National Center for Women & Information Technology, CSTA, and AnitaB.org, as well as investments by the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and many others over the past decade.
I was excited to watch the 60 Minutes piece and wrote a quick blog post titled littleBits Is Helping To Close The Gender Gap in Technology with a teaser about it. I then watched the whole episode and was incredibly upset. I fumed for a while and then emotionally supported several women, including Ayah Bdeir, littleBits CEO, who wrote An Insider’s Look at Why Women End Up on the Cutting Room Floor.
I wrote a draft of a blog post but realized that it wasn’t additive to the discussion. I was mad at 60 Minutes, felt incredibly frustrated, and was sad for all the women who were once again marginalized by the way things were portrayed.
I’ve been living in this problem since 2004 when I joined the board of a nascent organization called the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). I’ve learned an incredible amount about gender issues in technology – and in general – from working alongside Lucy Sanders and her wonderful organization since then. I’ve tried to be the living embodiment of a male advocate (now commonly referred to as a male ally) and, while I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, have been on a learning journey that has made me a much better human.
When Ruthe Farmer, the Chief Evangelist for CSforALL (and formerly of NCWIT) reached out to me about helping with a new project called CSbyALL, I immediately said yes. Amy and I have been supporters of CSforAll for several years and count a number of the board members as friends, especially Fred and Joanne Wilson who helped get CSforAll up and running.
Amy and I, along with Fred and Joanne, are proud to be the first contributors to this new project to document the actual history of the modern computer science education movement. CSbyALL will be a crowd-sourced interactive timeline and data visualization tool that will surface and illuminate the collective stories, artifacts, and events from the distributed CS education community. It will recognize the contributions of not only national leaders and policymakers, but also local advocates like teachers and school administrators, out-of-school time educators, local organizations, and researchers.
If you are interested in supporting this effort or getting involved in any way, drop me an email.
In July 2015, I wrote about New Story asking readers to crowdfund one $6k house for a family in Haiti. At the time, Brett was only a few months into building New Story and had built less than twenty total homes. They were young and inexperienced but had a strong conviction to do things differently as a nonprofit which appealed to me.
In the past four years, New Story has funded over 2,200 homes, building 17 communities for over 11,000 people across Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. They started out by chasing one crazy idea, and have grown nearly 100x since my original post.
They have now come up with a unique model for scaling their impact. There are over a billion people living without safe shelter. The need for safe housing is as staggering as the lack of solutions to meet the need — one traditional home at a time will never scale to the size of the problem. To even begin imagining a solution, New Story had to change their strategy.
In the past two years, they have shifted their primary focus from funding and building their own communities to pioneering solutions for the entire global social housing sector to use. The strategy is to create innovative solutions, prove their value in New Story’s work, and then share everything with others in the social housing sector.
In 2018, New Story partnered with ICON and developed the first 3D printer of homes designed to serve the families who need shelter most. This is a breakthrough technology that will cut costs, increase speed, and improve home design quality. New Story is on track to begin creating the world’s first 3D printed community of 50+ homes this summer in Latin America.
In addition to 3D printing communities, New Story created a SaaS team to help other organizations working to end global homelessness become more transparent and efficient. They’ll be sharing the tools they’ve created, including everything around 3D printing, while continuing to develop new breakthroughs.
The magic for creating this innovation-focused model has been New Stories private group of donors, the Builders. This group of about fifty families partners with New Story to fund their operating expenses and give them the license to take calculated risks through new R&D projects. In addition to me and Amy, my partner Seth Levine and his wife Greeley Sachs are members of the Builders program.
In Summer 2019, New Story is offering vision trips to see the world’s first 3D printed community. For families interested in learning more about the Builders program, email Brett Hagler.
At the time there were 108 projects that fit the profile. Our hope was that our match would fund these projects, encourage more teachers to put their projects up on DonorsChoose.org, and get more new donors involved.
We ended up funding 394 projects, helping 40,404 students, 246 schools, and 380 teachers in Colorado.
At the time, we didn’t announce the size of our matching gift, but it was $100,000. So, through Donorschoose.org we’ve helped fund $200,000 of direct purchases for classrooms in Colorado.
Thank you to everyone who supported these teachers. We love supporting Donorschoose.org because the projects are initiated by teachers who know what they need in their classroom to best serve their students’ educational needs.
Amy and I are big supporters of the Media Archaeology Lab (MAL). I love the idea of a computer museum and believe Boulder deserves to have a large one.
We’ve donated our computer collection to it, which includes my original Apple ][, my first portable computer (a Compaq luggable), an Apple III, an Apple Lisa, my original Mac 128K, a MITS Altair 8800b, a NeXTstation, and a bunch of other random stuff. Recently, my dad pitched in and contributed his entire cell phone and PDA collection, which included every cell phone he ever had.
MAL is located on the edge of the CU Boulder campus in a small building that they have outgrown. They have new space coming online in 2022, but until then they are looking for some additional space for both display and assembly purposes.
The display space needs to be near downtown Boulder or walking distance to the CU Boulder campus. This will be an extension of the existing public MAL space and, in the best case scenario, could actually be publicly accessible space. Worst case, it would be reservation-only space. Ideally, this would be anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 square feet.
The assembly space can be further from downtown and can be warehouse style space. MAL currently has over 50% of its existing space consumed with physical equipment that needs to be cleaned, staged, and assembled. One of the magical things about MAL is that all the computers on display are fully functioning, which means there are a lot of mice, keyboards, and disk drives as backup parts for when things inevitably go bad.
While MAL doesn’t have any money to pay for the space, I expect we can arrange things so that the space is a charitable donation.
If you have some extra space, ideas for space, or old computer stuff you’d like to donate, drop me an email.
And, if you want to contribute financially to support MAL, we’ve set up the Anchor Point Fund for MAL (Media Archaeology Lab) at CU Boulder.
Amy and I decided to match all of the funding for first-time projects in Colorado on DonorsChoosee.org. We are doing this through a gift from the Anchor Point Foundation and will be running it through the end of 2018. We believe deeply in the value of education and particularly like the DonorsChoose.org model of teacher-initiated projects.
There are currently 108 projects that fit this profile. We launched yesterday and nine have already been fully funded (and 330 students have been helped.) The criteria for our match is that these are projects put up by new teachers on the DonorsChoose.org platform.
Our hope is that two things will happen before the end of the year.
First, if you want to support a teacher and students in Colorado, go make a contribution of any amount on DonorsChoose.org from this link and we’ll automatically match it. Or, you can also click this link if you want to do a search on the active projects that Anchor Point Foundation is matching. You’ll notice a mention of the Anchor Point Foundation next to the projects we match – it’ll look like the following.
Clicking through will show a page like the following where you actually make the contribution.
Second, we hope any teacher in Colorado who has never had a fully funded project on DonorsChoose.org before, submits a project before the end of the year. We’ll match those projects as well, so getting more online is an awesome thing.
We believe DonorsChoose.org is an outstanding platform for getting additional funding into classrooms. Please help us support education in Colorado.
Amy and I are proud executive producers of the upcoming movie Pioneer In Skirts. It has been part of our activity supporting independent documentaries about gender diversity, especially in science and tech.
The daughter/mother leadership of Ashley Maria and Lea-Ann Berst along with their team has stayed after it and are close to the finish line. Watch the trailer and then if you are inclined toss a little money into the GoFund Me campaign to help finish off the film.
Amy and I love to read. Growing up, one of my favorite places in the world was the hammock in our backyard with a book. As an adult, one of my favorite places is our living room, on my couch, with Amy on her couch, and the dogs laying on the floor between us, while we read.
I also love DonorsChoose. Whenever I’ve had a crummy day, I often go online and fund a project or two.
Today, DonorsChoose has a match across the entire site for any donations for books. It’s DonorsChoose Book Match Day. How cool is that?
Amy grew up in Alaska and we have a house there so I just went and funded all the book projects in Alaska. Hopefully, by the time you read this post, there won’t be any left.
If you are a reader, love books, or want to help kids around the US read more, I encourage you to go fund a project (or a few) on DonorsChoose today. Search for the city you live or grew up in and have at it. It feels good and helps the next generation of readers.
I’m not doing my usual crazy schedule of running around to panels and events as I’ll be out of town for most of the week but wanted to highlight a few events I’m especially excited about.
Amy and I supported the Pledge 1% Colorado Nonprofit Pitch contest last year with a $10,000 grant through our Anchor Point Foundation and are happily doing it again this year. This and other Social Impact Track events are working to engage the broader startup community and expand Startup Week beyond just high-tech startups.
If you are around Boulder next week or want to see the Boulder community at it’s finest, check out the BSW schedule and join in on the fun.
Yesterday, my partners at Foundry Group announced financial support for the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.
We strongly believe that sexual harassment is unacceptable in any form. While there can be a debate about whether sexual harassment is about sex, power, or something else, there’s an additional pernicious element of it when the harasser threatens to sue the person being harassed. This extends the harassment and reinforces the issue around the power dynamic, especially when the harasser has much more financial resources than the person being harassed.
My partners and I were considering establishing a VC / Entrepreneurs Sexual Harassment Legal Defense Fund. When we saw the launch of Time’s Up and the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, we decided to financially support this activity and try to create a sub-group for the tech industry. As a starting point, Foundry Group is contributing $100,000 to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund and Anchor Point Foundation is contributing $100,000.
In addition, we are reaching out to VCs and Angel Investors that we know to see if they will join in our effort. If you are a VC or Angel Investor who wants to financially support this effort, please email me. And, if you are an individual who wants to directly support the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, please do so on the Time’s Up GoFundMe page.
Finally, for some inspiration, watch Oprah Winfrey’s powerful speech at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards.
As we start spinning up Defy Ventures in Colorado, we are doing a Business Coaching Day at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Ordway, Colorado. It’s one of our first Defy Colorado events and Governor Hickenlooper will be joining us for the day.
There will be around 80 Entrepreneurs-in-Training. While we were planning on having spaces for 50 volunteers, we’ve already filled over 40 of them before even talking about the program so there are only a few spaces left.
If you are interested, the event is happening on February 8th, 2018 from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm. Contact Melissa O’Dell to sign up or get on the list for the next Defy Colorado event.
For a taste of what the experience is like, watch the video above or go to my post Understanding Privilege – My Experience in Prison.