September 13, 2007

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) today announced the winners of its inaugural NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund awards. The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund provides members of NCWIT's Academic Alliance with startup funds (up to $15,000 per project) to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting and retaining women in computing and information technology. Initial funding for the Seed Fund was provided by Microsoft Research.

"The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund is stimulating innovative ways of increasing diversity in computer science," said Sailesh Chutani, Director of the External Research & Programs Group at Microsoft Research. "Microsoft is proud to support it."

The NCWIT Academic Alliance includes more than 65 computer science and IT departments across the country — including research universities, community colleges, women's colleges, and minority-serving institutions — dedicated to gender equity and institutional change in higher education computing and information technology. Following is a description of the four award-winning projects:

"Inspiring AmbITion," led by the Colorado Coalition for Gender and Information Technology (CCGIT), will develop and disseminate a multimedia outreach program to recruit women, non-traditional age groups, and underrepresented minorities from community colleges into four-year computing and IT programs. The project is funded for $10,000 and will bring together three Colorado universities (the Women's College of the University of Denver, the Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Colorado at Boulder).

"Leveling the CS1 Playing Field," an initiative from DePauw University, seeks to engage first-year women students through role modeling, dispelling myths about computing, and showcasing a broad variety of computing careers and lifestyles. The project will use its $10,000 funding to produce a video for incoming freshman women that provides information about introductory computing courses and encourages confidence in their potential and ability.

Oregon State University's "Computer Science Ambassador Program: Students Recruiting Students" leverages its highly successful "Ambassadors in Engineering" program as the model for a new student-to-student recruitment initiative focused on attracting college-bound high school students to computing. The $15,000 award will help to fund ambassador demonstrations and hands-on activities that highlight computer science, including high school classroom presentations, careers fairs, family science nights, and workshops for high-school guidance counselors.

The University of Pennsylvania will receive $10,000 for its "CS Outreach Program to High School Girls," a project that will perform outreach to high school girls on a national level and culminate in a March 2008 conference. The initiative's goal is to target students from 2,500 high schools nationwide, and encourage their interest in computing by providing them with academic and career advice as well as mentoring from undergraduate computer science majors.

The deadline for the next round of NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund proposals is November 1, 2007. Information about the Seed Fund program, including proposal requirements, the review process, and how to become an eligible Academic Alliance member, is available at

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NCWIT is a capacity-building coalition of over 100 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits working aggressively to increase women's participation in information technology (IT). NCWIT believes that women's participation is a compelling issue of innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability, and its work connects efforts along the entire pipeline, from K-12 and higher education through industry and academic careers. Find out more at