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National Center for Women and IT Accepting Grant Proposals for Middle School Outreach Programs

The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) is now accepting proposals for its 2014 NCWIT AspireIT program.

The NCWIT AspireIT program provides up to $3,000 in funding for tech-related outreach programs, such as after-school programs, summer camps, clubs, or weekend conferences, aimed at middle school girls. The program uses a "near-peer" approach that matches middle school girls with tech-savvy high school and college-aged women. According to information on the NCWIT AspireIT site, the goal of the program is to provide middle school girls with "a positive, sustained experience of learning and creating computing alongside their peers in high school and college."

To be part of the AspireIT program, the high school and college participants must be recipients of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, an award for high school girls who have demonstrated computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, strong academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. The NCWIT AspireIT grants are open to Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients working in partnership with NCWIT Academic Alliance or K-12 Alliance member organizations.

In 2013, AspireIT's pilot year, NCWIT granted more than $100,000 to 24 AspireIT programs in 15 states. More than 800 girls participated in the programs.

The 2013 programs included:

  • Girl Scouts of the USA's Digital Girls program that offered weekend workshop and summer camps in programming and robotics;
  • FIONA (Future Innovators of New Albany), which taught programming to students in New Albany - Plain Local Schools; and
  • GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science), a week-long summer camp offered at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

For 2014, NCWIT has launched a fundraising campaign to support 30 sites and serve 1,000 more middle school girls. Donation options begin at $10, and Google is matching donations up to $150,000. Fundraising is being handled through razoo.com.

The AspireIT grant application deadline is January 24, 2014, and grant recipients will be announced on February 7. Further information about the NCWIT AspireIT program and detailed application instructions can be found at ncwit.org/aspireit.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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