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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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NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing

Comments (5)

Several years ago on a Saturday I found myself at Bank of America Corporate Center in Charlotte. I was attending the second National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Awards for Aspirations in Computing event. I had gone for a three hour run early in the morning on a beautiful spring day in Charlotte and my mind was wandering all over the place.

As I entered the ballroom for the event, I encountered 32 young high school women and their parents. I wandered around and talked to most of the young women. They had a range of backgrounds, came from a bunch of different geographies, and were a mix of ethnicities. But they all had one thing in common – they loved computers.

As I got to know a few of them better, I learned that they did things like lead their First Robotics team. Write software for local businesses. Help out on systems for their schools and local governments. Hack on open source projects.

I was absolutely and completely blown away. And inspired. These young women were completely net native. They were from all over the place. They had a wide variety of teenage girl interests. But they were all fascinated with, and extremely competent with, computing. As much – or more – than I was in high school, and I spent an enormous amount of time with my head in my Apple ][.

On the spot, I called Amy and asked her if we could give each young woman a $1,000 scholarship in addition to the award they were getting. Amy said yes and Lucy Sanders, the CEO of NCWIT, announced it shortly thereafter. The scholarship was given to each Aspirations in Computing winner when they entered college as a freshman.

At this point, 100% of the women have gotten their scholarship. Many have already graduated. It’s incredibly rewarding to look at the list of schools, and the accomplishments, of these young women.

So Amy and I decided to do this again. We are giving another $1,000 scholarship to each winner of this year’s NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award. There are going to be 35 this year, so that’s a $35,000 gift to NCWIT. Hopefully that will encourage some additional young women to apply.

I’ve been chair of NCWIT for a number of years and I am very proud of what the organization has done to encourage women at a young age to get involved or continue pursuing STEM fields. Each year, NCWIT selects a set of high school girls that show remarkable promise in the fields of computing or IT and recognizes them for their aptitude, leadership, and academics. This award also creates an environment for those students to succeed in college by offering them scholarships, internship opportunities, and much more. The business community and the academic community, nationally, have really come together to make the awards substantial and impactful. I encourage you to jump in and help out, and here are a few ways how:

  • If you’re a young women, who’s applicable for this award, apply!
  • If you’re not, tell a young women you know, or a few, about this award. The knowledge that there are people rooting for them to succeed in STEM fields can have a powerful effect. Here’s an easy way to encourage a student to apply.
  • Offer a scholarship or host an award.
  • Start a conversation about NCWIT and the work the organization is doing. What we need is more discourse around the issue of inequality in computing and IT. Bring it up at dinner. Start a discussion with your daughter, niece, or friend about it. Learn more about it.

These awards are a few steps in the right direction but there’s always more work to be done. If you have thoughts about how to get more young women in this generation into innovation field, I would love to hear them!

The application for the NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing is open until October 31, 2013. Apply here.

Kauffman Foundation Provides 15 Scholarships to Defrag 2010

Comments (3)

The Kauffman Foundation just announced that they are providing 15 scholarships to Defrag. If you are an entrepreneur running a startup that is pre-Series A funding, you are eligible for a scholarship.  Kauffman will cover the full cost of the conference pass – all you have to do is get to the conference and find a place to sleep.

I’m hugely appreciative that Kauffman has stepped up to do this.  Conferences are not cheap and it’s a big expense for a company that has no funding.  On the other hand, it’s an incredible networking and learning opportunity for a startup that’s addressing issues in the ecosystem that Defrag covers.  Paul Kedrosky had a big hand in this and has been super helpful to Eric Norlin at Defrag from the beginning – thanks Paul – you are a star.

If you are interested in applying for one of these scholarships, just email Eric Norlin (enorlin AT mac.com) with your name, company website, and a 100 word (no more) explanation of why you should be at Defrag.

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