Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Funding Opportunity: Think CS Education and Jobs

You probably are aware that computing jobs pay very well.  Every state in the country has high paying computing jobs. Did you know that? Yeah, it's true. All 50 states have high paying computing jobs. Not only do computing jobs pay very well but they exist in virtually every significant industry. The public conversation doesn't always focus enough on the ubiquity of computing and computing jobs as it relates to economic and workforce issues.

Sometimes I wonder why, because computing technology supports a global economic infrastructure that we all rely on. However, I'll sit on my hands, leaving the "why" for another day, and stick today with an important aspect of "what":

When we hear talk in the media about the growing numbers of STEM jobs, it really means computing jobs in a big way. That means potential economic benefit all around. You don't need to be in Silicon Valley or working for a traditional high tech firm in order to get a really good computing job.

Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. It is a word that gets people's attention. It's a word that gets government attention.

Given the very slow economic recovery (I heard on the news last night that the U.S. national unemployment rate is still around 7.5%)  it seems a no brainer that there would be a variety of federal funding opportunities to encourage preparing students for these jobs. Funding opportunities that computer science educators can take advantage of.

Many people I work with routinely look to the National Science Foundation for funding opportunities, but not so many people are aware that funds are also available at the Department of Labor. It makes perfect sense actually, given the economic importance of computing to our economy. 

As an example, I want to point you to one such opportunity which hasn't received much press: the YouthCareerConnect grant program. From their web page:

"The Department of Labor will use up to $100 million in revenues from the H-1B visa program to fund approximately 25 to 40 grants for individual or multi-site projects. Grants will be awarded to local education agencies, public or non-profit local workforce entities, or non-profits with education reform experience. All grantees will have to demonstrate a strong public/private partnership, and must include, at a minimum, a local education agency, a local workforce investment system entity, an employer, and an institution of higher education."

My guess is that this CFP (Call For Proposals) is being overlooked by computing educators because of its location in the DOL and because it casts a wide net. Nonetheless, this could be an excellent opportunity to make a large impact, especially if you are already working with, or in conversation with, other entities interested in pushing full steam ahead on the computer science education front.

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