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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Funding Computer Science Education In NY

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Last week Fred and Joanne Wilson announced that they are helping create a $5m seed fund to invest in computer science education in the NYC public school system.

A few weeks ago Fred sent me a note and asked if Amy and I would make a contribution from our foundation. We’d previously contributed to another project Fred and Joanne spearheaded for the Academy of Software Engineering last year. It was easy to say yes for two reasons.

- The Warren Buffett / Bill Gates Rule: Remember that Warren Buffett gave all of his money to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation because Buffett trusted Gates judgment and ability to allocate his massive philanthropic gift wisely and intelligently? We completely trust Fred and Joanne’s judgment and easily support whatever they do in areas Amy and I are interested in.

- Computer Science Education: This is one of the areas Amy and I support significantly. Two weeks ago Wellesley unveiled their new Human-Computer Interaction Lab which we underwrote. I’m chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. And we have a few more fun things coming soon. So the Computer Science Education Venture Fund was something that was right up our alley.

Fred and Joanne are doing this with The NYC Foundation For Computer Science Education (the executive director, Evan Korth, is a total star.) If this is interesting to you, they are hosting an event at USV on Monday, November 18, 2013 for 6pm to 8pm for those who can consider making investments of $5,000 and above due to space constraints. Separately, there will be a crowd-funded campaign to allow donations of between $50 and $4,999 for those who can’t participate at these levels.

This is another great example of private philanthropic support to help transform something really important that public funding just isn’t getting done. If this is an important area to you, I encourage you to support Fred, Joanne, Evan, and this effort. If you are willing to consider contributing at the $5,000 or great level and can attend the event at USV on Monday, November 18th, register here.

Boulder New Tech Meetup Helping Local Non-Profits

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There are many things I love about Boulder.  One of them is the powerful sense of community that exists.  Talking about this is fine, but examples are better.  Here’s one:

On the first Tuesday of every month is the Boulder New Tech Meetup.  It’s one of the largest regular tech meetups in the world and is orchestrated by a bunch of folks, most notably Robert Reich of OneRiot who is the founder and ringleader.  Given my travel, I can’t make it regularly but I try to go a couple of times a year.  Each time is fascinating – I’ve always learned something, met some interesting folks, and had fun.

Last week Robert and the NewTech gang decided to do something different.  They lined up multiple non-profit organizations who presented New Tech style, but with a twist. Once all of the groups were finished on the podium (they each got two minutes instead of the typical five minutes to present) they split up into rooms all over the CU Wolf Law Building (where the New Tech Meetup is held) and started hacking. The tech community helped the non-profits on tech issues ranging  from web design to social media help, database support to graphic design, and everything in-between.

Robert sent me a list of the non-profits that presented.  They follow and include several that Amy and I support philanthropically:

  • Colorado Nonprofit Development Center presented by Kamela Maktabi
  • Food Bank of the Rockies presented by Janie Gianotsos
  • Cool Girls Science and Art Club presented by Mary Golden
  • Boulder International Fringe Festival presented by Alana Eve Burman
  • I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County presented by Lisa McAlister
  • The WILD Foundation presented by Emily Loose
  • Denver Curling Club presented by Alyssa Rossnagel
  • Boulder Community Computers presented by Eric Jackson
  • Ashoka’s Youth Venture presented by Matt Nathan
  • The “I Love U Guys” Foundation presented by John-Michael Keyes
  • Blue Sky Bridge Child Advocacy Center presented by Judy Toran Cousin
  • Leave No Trace presented by Dana Watts

Here are the stats of what happened:

  • 300 people showed up to listen to the non-profits present
  • 200 people stuck around for dinner
  • 130 people stayed around and directly helped the different non-profits hack

It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you put a bunch of smart techies in a room.  Boulder – I love you and miss you.  And, if you are in a NewTech Meetup in another city, I challenge you to help out some non-profits!

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