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Communications of the ACM

Broadening participation

The Influence and Promise of Alliances

The Influence and Promise of Alliances, illustration


In early 2016, the White House announced a government-wide investment in computing education—Computer Science for All—to be included in the President's 2017 budget. Computer Science for All would give every P-12 student the chance to learn computer science and to be given the opportunities "that allow them to join the innovation economy, have the tools to solve our toughest challenges, and become active citizens in our increasingly technological world."2 A major component of the initiative is inclusion in computing by students from underrepresented groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people with disabilities. The White House announcement stated that CS for All builds on computing education momentum at state and local levels.

Although the sources of this momentum were not named, we speculate that an important impetus for innovation and growth in computer science P-12 education comes from programs funded at the federal level, such as the NSF-funded CS 10K initiative, and community efforts, such as Predating these P-12 education efforts, the National Science Foundation launched the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program in 2006 as a model to effectively address the issues of underrepresentation, as well as respond to the need to increase participation in computing education and produce computing professionals. Chubin and Johnson1 provided a description of the 11 alliances that constituted the core of BPC as of 2009. In total, 15 BPC Alliances (BPC-A) have been funded. These Alliances represent broad coalitions of academic postsecondary institutions, secondary and middle schools, government, industry, professional societies, and other not-for-profit organizations.


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