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@mechanicalgirl
Created Aug 12, 2014
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What would you like to do?
Doing more with Young Coders
This was the easiest way I could think of to reply to all of you in under 140 characters. :)
My hope for 2015 is to take Young Coders beyond what we're doing with it already. It's great that we're reaching kids at Python conferences. But those kids are, by and large, the children of programmers and probably already have some exposure to what we're teaching them and access to the tools they need to succeed.
What I really want to do, though, is take the class out to underserved kids, kids who maybe wouldn't get the opportunity to be exposed to programming otherwise. I'm happy to arrange all the details - venues, signups, even my own travel to some extent (although I'll start small and work local). But teaching programming to underserved kids means giving them computers - not just the RPis and cards, but all the peripherals, and maybe even books, that they'd need to get set up at home and keep going on their own.
It's the costs for that equipment, of course, that's holding me back. I could apply for a PSF grant, but I don't just want to teach one class, one time. Ultimately I'd like to find a regular benefactor who'd be willing to sponsor these classes multiple times through the year. So maybe what I need is just to ask for a larger sum, and maybe I get that with Kickstarter, or an academic grant, or a big corporate sponsor, I just don't know. I'm just starting to get cost estimates together now, I'm just looking for ideas for when I start seeking financing.
@freakboy3742
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freakboy3742 commented Aug 12, 2014

Summarizing what I said on Twitter:

Firstly - Go hit up a large corporate with an interest in the subject area. Most large corporates have a philanthropic program of some sort, and if you ask nicely, you'd be surprised what can result. As an example, when I was a second year undergraduate, I got a $2k grant from Motorola to help fund a student conference - and all we had to do was write a letter. For many years, Google donated $5k a year to the DSF to cover food at our sprints. The key is to be explicit about how much you're asking for and what that money will be used for, and to be clear about how the corporate can get their advertising pound of flesh. The more it looks like you know exactly what is going on, and the easier it is for them to see the self-promotion benefit, the easier it will be to open the purses.

Secondly, an idea that would work in Australia, but I don't know if there's a US analog - lotteries commissions. In Australia, the weekly Lotto/Powerball draw is run by the government, and profits go to organisations that do local charity work. In Western Australia, the organisation is called LotteriesWest, and a whole lot of their promotion for the Lotto draw is how every time you play, you're giving back to the community. To that end, if you're doing something for the public good, they're in a position to make huge grants. On the small end of town, my wife volunteered at our local toy library while our children were pre-school, and the library got an annual donation to buy new toys, and occasional grants of $2k+ to buy computers, etc. On the larger end of town, there are sizeable organisations in Perth doing community outreach etc that are 100% funded by LotteriesWest.

Another idea - in-kind donations. From the sound of it, the biggest consumer of funds will be peripheral hardware. Again, this is an area where large corporates can come to the rescue. Corprate IT policies require hardware is replaced on a fixed schedule, and old hardware has to go somewhere. If you can get into the supply chain here, there's sure to be a steady stream of 17" flat screens and old keyboards/mice that companies are trying to get rid of.

Lastly, don't rule out the PSF/DSF line completely. I know you'd feel awkward asking for a grant every year, but if you can build the profile of what you're doing, events like this make it easier for the PSF/DSF to raise money, because we can point at something tangible that donors money achieves. We raise more money, so we can spend more money, so you can expand your program, and we can expand other programs. So - don't rule out the PSF/DSF line completely.

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