CU-Based IT Coalition Receives Grant For School Outreach From Motorola Foundation

February 15, 2008

The Colorado Coalition for Gender and Information Technology based at the University of Colorado at Boulder has been awarded a $20,000 Motorola Foundation Innovation Generation Grant to encourage K-12 students to study computer science.

The grant will support the Inspiring Ambition program supported by five universities in Colorado and Wyoming, which are collaborating to recruit students into the field of computer science. The program involves outreach road shows that allow undergraduate computer science students to visit K-12 schools using a hands-on program on computing and information technology.

"The shows raise awareness about information technology in education and careers, they change perceptions about the nature of information technology work and they encourage girls and underrepresented minorities to enter computer science and information technology programs at four-year institutions," said Deborah Keyek-Franssen, co-director of the coalition.

The Inspiring Ambition program is a collaboration of postsecondary institutions in the Rocky Mountain region including CU-Boulder, Colorado State University, the University of Wyoming, The Women's College of the University of Denver and the Colorado School of Mines. The grant provides coordination and evaluation for presentations throughout the Denver metro and southern Wyoming region.

With the Motorola funding, the center's regional computer science road show could reach more than 1,000 students per year for years to come and potentially influence more students, especially girls and underrepresented minorities, to pursue degrees and careers related to computer science and information technology, Keyek-Franssen said.

"This effort is unique in the field because it incorporates trainers with both computer science expertise and K-12 education expertise," she said. One of the goals of the program is to help K-12 students understand how computer science is applied to many fields, such as dance, art or health care, said Keyek-Franssen.

The Colorado Coalition for Gender and Information Technology is one of seven national hubs of the National Center for Women and Information Technology, which is based at the ATLAS Institute at CU. The women and technology center works to increase women's participation in information technology.

The Motorola Foundation's Innovation Generation Grants are a $3.5 million initiative to fund education programs that spark a love of science, technology, engineering and math in youth.

For more information about the Colorado Coalition for Gender and Information Technology visit www.colorado.edu/atlas/diversity/ccgit/.

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