AISES and the Kapor Center Awarded $1.4m Grant from National Science Foundation

Alicia Nunez

Funding to Support Native American Girls in Computer Science Education

Albuquerque, NM, June 21, 2021 – The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Kapor Center have been awarded a 4 year, $1.4m grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovation Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program in order to provide a sequence of 3 tribe-specific and gender responsive culturally relevant Computer Science courses to Native-serving high schools. Despite the ubiquity of the technology sector in the United States and the growth in computer science enrollments across the country, there has been a decrease in degree completion among Native girls and marginal gains in high school CS enrollment.

The project, Expanding CS for Native Girls, aims to increase interest, engagement, and participation in computing education (with an emphasis on Advanced Placement Computer Science participation and success) among Native high school students and girls. The project will create a series of courses from introductory level to Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science, developed to center traditional Native American knowledges and ways of knowing and aligned with tribal cultural values, vision, and goals for sovereignty.

The pilot year of the project (2020-2021) was funded by Reboot Representation with partnerships in eastern Oklahoma with Stilwell High School and in south central New Mexico with Mescalero Apache School, ultimately serving 115 students. With NSF funding, the project will seek to partner with an additional 8 Native-serving high schools over the next 4 years.

“This award will help us to lift up more Native girls and students with high quality, rigorous and tribe-specific culturally relevant CS curricula and leadership opportunities. We are very excited to partner with additional Native-serving schools across the country,” said Frieda McAlear, Senior Research Associate at the Kapor Center and co-Principal Investigator on the project.

For more information about the project or to explore partnership opportunities, please contact Dr. Kathy DeerInWater (kdeerinwater@aises.org) and Frieda McAlear (friedam@kaporcenter.org).

About the NSF ITEST program

ITEST is an applied research and development (R&D) program providing direct student learning opportunities in pre-kindergarten through high school (PreK-12). The learning opportunities are based on innovative use of technology to strengthen knowledge and interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and information and communication technology (ICT) careers. To achieve this purpose, ITEST supports projects that engage students in technology-rich experiences that: (1) increase awareness and interest of STEM and ICT occupations; (2) motivate students to pursue appropriate education pathways to those occupations; and (3) develop STEM-specific disciplinary content knowledge and practices that promote critical thinking, reasoning, and communication skills needed for entering the STEM and ICT workforce of the future.

About AISES

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is a national nonprofit organization focused on substantially increasing the representation of Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies and careers.

The vision of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is for the next seven generations of Native people to be successful, respected, influential, and contributing members of our vast and ever-changing global community. To learn more visit aises.org and follow @AISES.

About the Kapor Center

The Kapor family of organizations works to remove barriers to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and tech careers for underrepresented people of color. We take a comprehensive approach to fixing the leaks at every stage of the tech pipeline, from K-12 education through the workplace with education programs, advocacy, and social impact investing. To learn more visit kaporcenter.org and follow @KaporCenter.