Update: We’ve already reached 50% of our funding goal! That will put three makerspaces in public schools!
When I first started the Rural Technology Fund in 2008 the goal was to provide a few small scholarships every year to students from rural areas pursing an education in a computer-related discipline. Coming from a very rural area myself, I know how hard it is to pursue a passion in an area where no industry exists to support it and where public schools can barely afford basic classroom supplies. As time progressed, the reach of the RTF expanded by repurposing used technical books to public school libraries, supporting high school and university computer science clubs, and donating educational equipment to classrooms. In our short existence, we’ve managed to make a tremendous impact through the efforts of a few volunteers and very few donations. You can learn more about on our impact page here.
As we look to 2016, I believe it’s time that the RTF continues to evolve and grow to impact more students in more places. We are going to continue doing everything we’ve been doing up to this point, but we are also going to challenge ourselves to commit to building 10 complete makerspace labs in public schools in 2016. The Makerspaces Across Rural America project (MARA) is a huge commitment that will positively impact a great number of young people, helping to ensure that students from rural and low income areas have every chance to succeed in high demand computer-related fields. Please watch the short video below that explains why the RTF exists, and how we are using the MARA project to address a great need.
About the Makerspaces
We’ve designed a makerspace that contains a wide array of equipment and learning tools designed to expose students to multiple facets of computers science. The lab is designed to serve a large number of students through use of individual stations tied to each of these focus areas. In a typical classroom environment, students will rotate between focus areas, spending a fixed length amount of time in each area so that they can complete projects and build skills. Students who find particular interest in one area will be given the opportunity to spend more time in that area to continue to advance their skills.
- Systems and Networking
- Computer Programming
- Computer Engineering and Design
In addition to module specific components, a number of shared components will also be provided. This includes monitors, keyboards, mice, cabling, individual and group white boards, and other supplies.
The labs are setup to provide education at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. All equipment provided in the labs will be paired with instruction books and teacher planning guides to aide students and teachers alike. Also, equipment will be provided at age appropriate levels depending on the grade levels of the school receiving the lab.
About the Schools
We are thrilled to be bringing these labs to rural and low income schools. We’ve already selected a few pilot schools who will be receiving the first set of labs, but we are actively seeking additional schools to participate. In order to be eligible for a lab your school must:
- Be a public school in the US
- Be in a rural or low income district
- Be willing build curriculum around the use of the lab
- Be willing to provide time for training instructional staff on the use of the lab equipment
- Provide periodic feedback about how the labs are being used, success stories, etc
If you are an education or administrator at a school who meets these criteria, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why you want to be involved.
How You Can Help
The RTF is completely volunteer supported, and the overhead costs for this project have already been donated by the RTF board. That means that 100% of every donation goes straight towards purchasing equipment to support the CS labs. To complete this project and reach our goal we have to raise approximately $100,000. It’s a very lofty goal, but we know we can do it with your help.
You can donate directly to the RTF with a credit card via PayPal (no PayPal account required) on our Donate page. This is the preferred method of donation as it incurs no fees.
All individual donors will have their name mentioned on our website and in the packets included with the lab equipment when it is delivered to a school, unless you opt out of doing so.
If you represent a corporation that is interested in sponsoring this project, you can donate directly using a credit card via PayPal (no PayPal account required) on our Donate page. Alternatively, contact us at email@example.com to discuss alternative payment methods or to get an address for mailing a check. Corporate sponsorships are tied to tiers based on the amount.
- Platinum: > $10,000
- Gold: $5,000-$9,999
- Silver: $2,500-$4,999
- Bronze: $500-$2,499
All corporate sponsors will appear on our website denoting the level of the sponsorship and will also be included in the packet that is presented to our recipient schools when the lab equipment is delivered and setup. All sponsors are free to provide shirts, pens, or other gifts to present to schools at the time the labs are delivered.
Bronze level and above sponsors will be included in any press releases related to the distribution of lab equipment.
Gold sponsors will have a lab module presented in their name exclusively, i.e., the “XYZ Corp Robotics Module”
Platinum sponsors will have a lab donation presented in their name exclusively, i.e., the “XYZ Corp CS Lab.”
Technology jobs have the power to change lives and restore communities. With your help, we can empower young people to accomplish these feats!