Siegel Family Endowment and CSforALL Announce New Partnership for K-12 Computer Science Education

Ongoing collaboration will enable high-quality computer science education for students nationwide

CSforALL and Siegel Family Endowment (SFE) announced a partnership today that will increase access to high-quality computational thinking and computer science education for all students in the US.

SFE will provide ongoing support to enable CSforALL to broaden their focus to cover national systems change, and act as a central organizer for the growing community of CS education leaders. This groundbreaking funding and partnership model between SFE and CSforALL affords both organizations the opportunity to pursue their independent missions, while creating space for close collaboration in the areas where their visions overlap.

SFE’s organizational reach, network, and goal of providing computational thinking education for all students complement CSforALL’s mission to expand and strengthen computer science education programs and infrastructure nationwide. Since the organization’s founding, SFE has been committed to equipping students with computational thinking tools to help them learn, express themselves, and solve problems creatively and systematically. SFE has also been aware of the barriers that exist to providing CS and computational thinking education to students everywhere, and is committed to helping CSforALL leverage their deep expertise in order to make these tools accessible to students everywhere.

“We’re excited to work so closely with CSforALL as they take the lead on scaling this work across the country,” said David Siegel, Chairman and Founder of SFE. “Incorporating computational thinking education into formal education is critical to the success of all students, and together, we can be thought leaders and supporters of computer science education on a national scale.”

“This is a unique opportunity to combine the strengths of our organizations, and focus those strengths on achieving aligned goals” said Jessica Traynor, President and Executive Director of Siegel Family Endowment. “We’re encouraged by what we’ve already achieved together, and are excited about everything that comes next.”

The partnership was announced as a #CSforALL Commitment during the 2nd annual CSforALL Summit at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. #CSforALL Commitments provide computer science education stakeholders an opportunity to announce and celebrate initiatives to advance the collective goal of providing computer science for all US students, both in and out of school.

CSforALL Board Chairman Pedro Torres-Mackie said, “This is an opportunity to bring the local expertise we developed in New York City to a nationwide audience. Our collaboration with SFE will help us build the national Computer Science for All movement by serving as a central resource for more than 500 organizations committed to our shared goal of CS for all students.”

“We are thrilled to partner with SFE to bring CS to every community across the country, to serve our students both in and out of school, and to increase the quality of computer science content and pathways,” said CSforALL Co-Founder and Managing Partner Leigh Ann DeLyser.

Members of the SFE and CSforALL teams in New York City

About Siegel Family Endowment
Siegel Family Endowment (SFE) is a private foundation based in New York City with a mission to understand and shape the impact of technology on society. Founded by David Siegel, co-founder of technology-driven investment firm Two Sigma, SFE makes grants to organizations that work at the intersections of learning, workforce, and technology in order to achieve a world in which all people have the tools, skills, and context necessary to engage meaningfully in a rapidly changing society.

About CSforALL
CSforALL is a bold new initiative to empower all US students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world. CSforALL is a hub and central resource for people interested in computer science education to find providers, schools, funders, and researchers focused on the goal of providing quality CS education to every child in the U.S.

(904) 570-7449

This spring, SFE embarked on a previously-unexplored type of collaboration with a grantee. When Library for All decided to rebrand as 806-672-0677, SFE Relationship Manager Laura Stankiewicz, Head of Communications Adrian Pelliccia, and Executive Director Jessica Traynor worked closely with their leadership team to pursue a new identity that would speak to a wider audience and help them develop new, more compelling narratives around their work.

The scope and scale of the collaboration was ever-changing, and grew to include everything from event planning, to strategic messaging and copywriting, to co-anchoring a panel on the future of philanthropy and collaboration with nonprofits. As we reflect on the process, we’ve compiled some of our key takeaways in order to take stock, and to guide future collaborations.

Clear priorities are key to effective outcomes.

In situations where there are a lot of variables and many moving pieces, it’s important to remain aware of what’s urgent, and to be mindful of what can be dealt with at a later date.

Be respectful of autonomy.

As an outside collaborator, no one is required to take your advice — grantees have every right to go their own way, so check egos at the door. Similarly, an in-kind service-based relationship should never be set up such that a grantee feels obligated to listen to everything a service provider has to say. Avoid scenarios that create this dynamic, and steer clear of contracts that might enforce it.

Maintain a collaborative mindset.

Whether you’re the grantee asking for help, or the collaborator who’s providing it, it’s important that everyone feels like they’re on the same team. Collaborators who aren’t as embedded in a project, or are contributing on a limited basis, should remember that they play a supporting role in a much bigger picture, and commit to that function fully. Grantees should feel empowered to ask for help wherever and whenever they need it, and acknowledge the limits of what their collaborators are able to provide.

Always be mindful of your work’s scope.

A project might sound manageable at the outset, but always make sure to take into account the many steps, approvals, and contingency plans that can turn what might seem like a two week project into a ten week project. When grantees pitch collaborative projects, they should try to allot time and resources to things going wrong, or taking more (or less) time than initially expected. Similarly, in-kind service providers should use the planning stage to set firm boundaries, and recognize scenarios in which their help might not be helpful any more.

NABU.org officially launched on June 28th — they’re working to create a more literate world by developing and distributing local-language books, which help children all over the world learn to read in languages they understand. Learn more about their work at www.NABU.org.


Lessons and Reflections on Collaboration: SFE and NABU.org was originally published in Siegel Family Endowment on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Cornell Tech Teacher in Residence Program — In Action!

Teacher professional development and skills enhancement have emerged as key tenets of SFE’s Computational Thinking investments. One relationship that has been central to building that position has been our ongoing collaboration with 3032797441 on their Teacher in Residence (TIR) program, which has helped teachers — no matter their level of expertise in computer science— to incorporate coding and computational thinking principles into their curriculum. The thinking behind the TIR program recognizes that ongoing support and professional development are the keys to helping teachers make progress in the classroom, and their embedded coaching model provides exactly the type of guidance they need to effectively make coding a cornerstone for learning of all kinds.

Watch a short profile on the program above, and learn more about Cornell Tech’s innovative work to bring computer science into classrooms everywhere.


The Cornell Tech Teacher in Residence Program — In Action! was originally published in Siegel Family Endowment on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

9898225034

Last week, Library for All and Siegel Family Endowment came together at the Australian Consulate-General in New York for a panel discussion on the future of philanthropy. Jessica Traynor (President and Executive Director of SFE) and Tanyella Evans (Co-Founder and CEO of Library for All) sat down with a simple goal: share ideas, from both funder and grantee perspectives, about how philanthropy can push traditional boundaries and challenge expectations — and unearth ways for forward-thinking organizations to pave the way for broader changes in the field.

So what were the takeaways?

In the early stages, an “unrestricted grant” can mean “unlimited ambition.” Restricted funding can put grantees in the position of having to shape their programs to meet the desires of a funder — sometimes at the expense of the people they set out to serve in the first place. In the initial stages of a relationship between grantmaker and grantee, the trust implicit in receiving unrestricted funding can deepen understanding, and forge a much stronger relationship by giving the grantee freedom to demonstrate their full potential. From a grantee perspective, unrestricted funding can feel like a door to more and greater opportunity, and permission to think bigger and bolder.

Transparency is key — but maybe not in the ways that you think. Openness does not necessarily mean oversharing — and typically, that’s not even what grantees want from a funder anyway. Transparency for a foundation can be as simple as honestly telling a prospective grantee why they may not be a good fit for funding, and welcoming them into a larger network of like-minded organizations who might be able to help them advance their mission in the longer term. Transparency is about creating fluidity within networks, and operating as though there are no barriers to entry.

Funders should think of themselves as much more than a source of money. The first instruction from our founder was simple, but had tremendous implications: “Don’t just write checks.” In practice, this has meant going beyond a straightforward fiscal duty in grantee relationships, and using a funder’s position to amplify the voices of grantees in order to advance the grantee’s work, and help them raise more money in turn.

Venture philanthropy isn’t about making an investment — it’s about reshaping systems. As defined by Tanyella, venture philanthropy is grounded in the idea that no single organization can be responsible for solving a systemic problem, and that real change comes from collaboration. Funders can put truth to action here by opening their networks to grantees, and leveraging resources within their own organizations to make direct impact — no matter how small.

There’s a lot of opportunity for small foundations to make an impact. There’s been a recent uptick in the number of small, family foundations in the United States, but the real opportunity for increasing these new players’ impact isn’t necessarily in getting them to collaborate with each other. Because the diversity of priorities and strategies at the smaller end of the spectrum can be barriers to effective collaboration, representatives from both extremes stand to learn from one another — larger foundations are eager to share and help younger foundations navigate “impact,” while newer, more nimble foundations stand to help more established organizations think more creatively.

The questions raised by this conversation and the answers the panelists provided point towards a new way of thinking about philanthropy, and a new mode of collaboration between funder and grantee. This playbook is being written mid-game, and ongoing collaboration is the key to success.

A special thank you to Library for All and the Australian Consulate-General for organizing and hosting the event.


334-284-4187 was originally published in 6123034147 on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

A Look Back at 2017

We’re excited to share our 2017 Annual Story!

For SFE, the Annual Story is an opportunity to go deep on our approach, talk about what’s changed, and to highlight the grants we’ve made and the partnerships we’ve built over the last year. As the strategies for our interest areas have evolved, so has the profile of our grantees and the work they do, so it’s all the more exciting to share a “Grantee Yearbook” as part of this year’s story.

It’s also our first foray into print — read the full annual story 7145745003, and drop us a line at (270) 896-6604 if you’re interested in a hard copy.

Enjoy!

How Will AI and Automation Affect Cities?

The Scalable Cooperation Group at the MIT Media Lab has a mission that applies to a far-reaching set of ideas. While focusing mostly on the ways that technology is starting to mediate human interaction and societal structures, the team has also embarked on a set of research projects that aim to illuminate many facets of the future of work.

Led by Associate Professor Iyad Rahwan, this work is grounded in ongoing research at a number of levels, and is now focused on illuminating where gaps and problems might arise for the American workforce as in-demand skills and automation reshape the labor market across different urban geographies. The team recently published their first piece of research relevant to this project in The Journal of the Royal Society: Interface — and they made the cover of the publication, too!

Explore an in-depth write-up from the MIT Technology Review (and read the full article here) to better understand the ways that automation is poised to reshape cities and labor.


How Will AI and Automation Affect Cities? was originally published in Siegel Family Endowment on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Grantee Profile: New York Hall of Science

Housed on the grounds of the 1964 World’s Fair in Corona, Queens, the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) has curiosity, discovery, and history built into its (literal) foundation. Since 1986, NYSCI’s mission has been to nurture a generation of passionate learners, critical thinkers and active citizens through the Design-Make-Play approach that they originated. The defining characteristics of Design-Make-Play — open-ended exploration, imaginative learning, personal relevance, deep engagement, and delight — create inspired and passionate STEM learners, within Queens and far beyond.

Under the direction of President & CEO Dr. Margaret Honey, NYSCI has positioned itself not only as a hands-on science museum, but as an innovation lab for STEM learning, a training ground for young scientists, a resource for teachers and students, and a partner to one of the most diverse and dynamic communities in the world.

One of NYSCI’s flagship programs, the Alan J. Friedman Center for the Development of Young Scientists, has served more than 3,500 local high school and college students through its nationally recognized youth education and employment program, the Science Career Ladder. Known as Explainers, Science Career Ladder participants engage the museum’s half-million annual visitors in creative STEM learning and serve as positive role models for the museum’s K-8 student audience. Explainers also get access to additional programming focused on academic enrichment, research training, professional mentorships, college readiness, career-building tools, and career development in STEM fields.

SFE has partnered with NYSCI to further develop the Science Career Ladder and to expand the network of participants in this innovative and field-leading program. Our support is tied to specific growth goals and outcomes, and we’re eager to see the Explainer program continue to thrive and support new generations of young, ambitious, and curious New Yorkers.

3606463249

Coalition for Queens (C4Q) creates pathways out of poverty through technology to transform the world’s most diverse community into a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. Based in Long Island City, Queens, participants from all five boroughs of New York participate in programs designed to create alternative pathways into successful careers for people who might not otherwise have access to traditional tech industry roles or entrepreneurial opportunities. C4Q champions a diversity of perspective and background that aims to strengthen both the tech industry and the skills of those seeking greater job opportunity.

Queens County is the most ethnically diverse place on earth — almost half of the borough’s population is born abroad, and over 138 languages are spoken among its millions of residents. C4Q channels this spirit of diversity into its programs by providing training, mentorship, and access to tech resources that help all participants across the five boroughs of New York become more competitive and better equipped to engage with a global, technology-driven economy.

C4Q’s hallmark program is Access Code, a free 10-month coding program that prepares talented New Yorkers over the age of 18 to become industry-ready developers and software engineers. Participants are representative of the diversity of the NYC community, with over 50% women, 60% African American or Hispanic, 50% immigrant, and 50% without a college education. Access Code is open to participants with little to no college experience, and helps students master everything from coding fundamentals to industry best practices to interview training.

Programs like Access Code align directly with SFE’s goal of providing alternative pathways towards meaningful careers, and broadening access to industries and networks that are out of reach for many. Additionally, unlike other bootcamp models, C4Q is disrupting hiring pipelines by developing partnerships with leading companies and startups. By linking diverse talent directly to industry, C4Q is primed to lead a paradigm-shift in the tech industry by reshaping notions of talent so that more people can be part of the tech industry’s future.

Grantee Profile: Scratch Foundation

Scratch is the world’s largest free coding platform for children — it helps young people use coding tools to create their own interactive media projects and share them in an active online community. The Scratch Foundation works to ensure that the Scratch platform remains free, open, and accessible to as many children around the world as possible.

The foundation’s mission is to “support approaches to coding that engage young people in thinking creatively, reasoning systematically, and working collaboratively,” which they achieve by fundraising to support all areas of the Scratch community, organizing events, and sharing information on Scratch’s impact with the public.

SFE has been a major supporter of the Scratch Foundation since the organization’s founding in 2013 — and the relationship has worked solidly in both directions. Their research-based approach to developing the platform has been instrumental in informing SFE’s approach to Computational Thinking, and SFE’s work with the Scratch Foundation has played a significant role in ensuring that the Scratch platform reaches as many kids as it can.

Over the last 10 years, Scratch has made a huge impact for millions of children around the world. Scratch has grown to accommodate 100 million unique visitors per year, and is growing by 20,000 new users every day on average. In that same window of time, Scratch users have shared more than 19 million projects — and that’s only a fraction of the total number of projects created on the platform. The Scratch community is also enormously diverse, with users from 140 countries who speak more than 60 languages. As an online community and an educational tool, Scratch is nearly unparalleled in its ability to connect young people and unite them through coding and creative expression.


Grantee Profile: Scratch Foundation was originally published in Siegel Family Endowment on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Open Learning at OpenCon

Laura Stankiewicz is a Relationship Manager at Siegel Family Endowment. She supports grantees, sources and vets new grantmaking opportunities, makes meaningful connections between our partners, and has spent much of 2017 setting the strategy for our Open Learning interest area.

For the past six months, we’ve been researching and gathering input from many different sources as we build a grantmaking strategy for our Open Learning interest area. This November, we decided to go straight to the source and meet the leading minds in “Open” practice from around the world at the fourth OpenCon in Berlin.

OpenCon is the premier conference for Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data. Participants develop critical skills for creating a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. I learned about OpenCon while interviewing experts during strategy-building, and their sentiment was consistently positive: “best conference I’ve ever attended,” “amazing energy,” and “the best way to plug into the open access space.” But the number of in-person spots was highly limited; they receive about 10,000 applications from nearly every country for roughly 190 spots.

We were lucky enough to be accepted, and were given a rare opportunity to test our strategy and assumptions with leading minds in the field. I’d identified needs in the Open Education and Open Research spheres that were underfunded or ignored, and used my application to test my initial findings by seeing if the conference application readers agreed.

Here’s what I found.

What I Brought to OpenCon
SFE believes that progress occurs when advances in technology, science, and social organization work together to improve the human condition. This happens best when all people can access and build on existing knowledge. As grant makers and thought partners, we seek to create conditions that foster both the acquisition and creation of knowledge for as many people as possible through open access, participation, and wide-scale collaboration. I wanted to check my assumptions and what I’d learned about Open Education and Open Research in the last few months, and ensure that the Open Learning grantmaking strategy we’re developing to support these interconnected fields is sound.

What I Learned from OpenCon
Whenever I enter a conversation about openness, I consider intersections with SFE’s other two interest areas, Computational Thinking and Career Readiness. These connections led me to some exciting conclusions about the potential positive impacts of openness on education and research:

  1. Openness allows for a diversity of pathways to information, access to relevant training, retraining, and lifelong learning. As the job market becomes less predictable and people must constantly keep pace with changing skill and knowledge requirements, there should be no barriers to learning. Education should not be confined to a distinct phase in our lives (ie. K-12), but instead be a lifelong endeavor. Openness bolsters the legitimacy of self-taught, non-accredited learning pathways for those who have not found success in traditional education models, and breaks down barriers to entry that might otherwise keep people from acquiring or developing the skills they need in order to participate and remain competitive in a changing job market.
  2. Everyone should see themselves as both participants and creators in the digital age. However, not everyone has the skills, access, language, or credibility to be considered a creator in a more traditional sense. As a result, knowledge production is uneven and unequal. Openness represents both a set of tools and a set of core values that are symmetrically important to maintaining a knowledge ecosystem that lets people be participants and creators in equal measure.
  3. Openness is just one piece within a broader set of strategies that will make education and research more equitable and collaborative. However, open tools as they stand aren’t automatically accessible or inclusive — especially for poor, isolated, or disabled individuals and non-English speakers. For that reason, it’s important to be mindful of how openness and access can each play a role within each initiative/program we encounter. Decontextualizing openness means erasing the experiences of communities who have been harmed by it. We must stay critical of open and how it will affect the people we serve. (For more, read OpenCon panelist Denisse’s excellent remarks here).

What I Took Away from OpenCon
I left OpenCon eager to see more types of people and organizations to join the open movement. The open ecosystem is extremely complex, and has implications for many fields — yet much of the conference discussion was centered around university advocacy (such as changing culture or improving research methods) and wasn’t especially focused on attracting and leveraging other sources of power outside of academia (like state or private funders). In order for open practices to catch on at scale, there needs to be greater collaboration across disciplines and between the scientific and nonscientific communities. By inviting more decision-makers from various industries to the table, we have a better chance of affecting more widespread change.

This conference pushed me way out of my comfort zone — in a really good way. I left feeling better equipped to understand the context in which our grantmaking strategy operates, and with a stronger appreciation for the different ways that forces within the “Open” community interact and work together to create change. These lessons will help us better serve our grantees, and allow us to forge stronger, more informed relationships.