Ecosystems for Computer Science (E4CS): A COVID Year of Growth and Strategic Planning

Overview

With funding from Schmidt Futures, CSforALL launched EcoSystemforCS (E4CS) in Fall 2019. A mix of rural and urban communities across the South, East, Midwest, Southwest, and Pacfic Northwest United States, and at different stages in their development became the E4CS Cohort. Maintaining this community with intent was the basis for learning and networking with each other, and other experts. The overwhelming sentiment from all was the invaluable opportunity for new partnerships, hearing from ecosystems faced with similar challenges, learning from experts, and the space to focus on developing a strategic plan together.

  • Central2CS, (Worthington, Ohio)
  • CS4ALL Miami powered by Miami EdTech (Miami, Florida)
  • CSforCHI (Chicago, Illinois)
  • CSforOK (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
  • CSforRGV (Mission, Texas)
  • CSMN-Southeast (St. Paul, Minnesota)
  • Gateway to Computer Science (Richmond, Virginia)
  • Girls Code 205 in Birmingham (Birmingham, Alabama)
  • New MexiCodes (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Elements of an Effective Ecosystem

It became clear to all that developing a sustainable ecosystem for CS requires a dynamic community of individuals, organizations, and resources coalescing to ensure equitable access to high-quality CS education for all students. This initiative reflects the power and the impact of diverse individuals and organizations coming together and developing the building blocks for a community-led model for CS that will strengthen the CS movement and create more sustainable and locally driven change. The components of a systems approach to computer science for all include:

  • Combination of meaningful in-person and virtual learning opportunities including site visits
  • Intentional opportunities for reflection and problem-solving across communities
  • Tools and resources for leadership development, collaboration, strategic planning, problem solving, policy development, partnership development, landscape mapping, community engagement, communication, fundraising, and increasing equity and access
  • Strong facilitation skills that allows for large and small group discussions
  • Continuous improvement to identify ongoing needs and improve process
  • Opportunities to present and receive feedback within the cohort and from outside experts
  • Opportunities to celebrate

Lessons Learned

Impact of COVID

Forever a thinker, learner, and optimist.