"It will take more than good intentions or business as usual, however, to reverse long standing underrepresentation. It will take committed, focused, and sustained efforts on the part of many in the computing community.”

– NSF CISE AC BP Strategic Plan, 2012

“Our research cannot reach its full potential for societal benefits if we are missing out on the ideas and intellect of a majority of our Nation’s population. Through BPCnet, the full CISE research population will together move the needle on these issues by plugging into long-term departmental plans and community expertise.”

– Margaret Martonosi, NSF CISE AD, 2019

In keeping with its long-standing commitment to broadening participation in computing (BPC), the CISE Directorate at NSF now requires that most proposals include a BPC Plan for the PIs and CoPIs. The goal is to engage researchers along with their students in a wide range of meaningful BPC activities, including “institutional programs and activities as well as culture change across colleges, departments, classes, and research groups.”

All PIs, and particularly those who have not been involved in DEIA activities in the past, are encouraged to join ongoing successful BPC activities. For Allen School PIs, these could be activities within the Allen School, the COE, the UW, or at the community, regional or national levels. For many PIs, though, improving the content or reach of activities already happening within the Allen School will have the greatest impact. For this reason, while CISE allows Standalone BPC plans (which allow you to propose any set of activities and describe them with respect to the 5 elements listed below)using all three allotted pages), CISE encourages the use of Connected BPC plans (which “connect” to a set of departmental activities – in our case, you join specific, ongoing Allen School activities listed in the Allen School's Departmental Verified BPC Plan posted on BPCnet.org). Connected plans require considerably less work in designing because the departmental activity has already gone through design, implementation, execution and assessment phases. PIs need to write just a single page describing their proposed contribution. Connecting to the Allen School’s Plan will likely increase the impact of your work while making its writeup much easier!

IMPORTANT: All PIs involved in a proposal must make the same choice of a Standalone or Connected BPC project plan. All PIs from a single institution must join on a single BPC Plan which, if Connected, can specify at most one of the institution’s Departmental Verified Plans (in the event that several units at the institution have separate approved plans).

The remainder of this document contains 4 sections:

  1. Concerns Relevant to Either Type of Plan
  2. Writing a Standalone BPC Plan
  3. Writing a Connected BPC Plan
  4. Additional Resources and Assistance

1. Concerns Relevant to Either Type of Plan

CISE defines the targeted, historically underrepresented groups (HUGs) to be women, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities. The Allen School defines the target groups for DEIA activities more broadly, and includes for example, students who have different gender identities, identify as LGBTQ+, are from lower economic backgrounds, are first-generation college students or are students in the intersection of one or more of these identity dimensions. Though your BPC Plan may include students from any of these additional groups, it must target at least one of the HUGs.

To assist PIs in developing their BPC Plans, CISE funded the Computing Research Association (CRA) to build and curate the BPCnet Resource Portal. It has lots of useful information, including templates, suggested activities, a wide range of DEIA resources and opportunities for consultant services.

All BPC plans are submitted as Supplementary Documents that include roles for all PIs and co-PIs; there is a 3-page limit and the document must conform to NSF formatting guidelines. CISE has a review and feedback process to ensure that funded proposals contain BPC plans with meaningful activities and concrete metrics for success. The BPC Plans are reviewed separately from the proposal by people familiar with BPC efforts. If a proposal gets to the “award” phase, the program officer may work further with the PI to ensure that the BPC plan is sound. Metrics for success listed in the plan will later be used for awardees “to demonstrate progress toward their stated goals as part of project annual reports.” PIs and co-PIs are expected to “participate in BPC activities in a manner aligned with their personal contexts, interests, and skills.”

CISE defines a “meaningful” BPC plan as one with the following five elements:

  1. Context: Does the plan describe a goal using institutional or local data?

    PIs should describe the local context relevant to their activity, not just the general national context. This may include diversity data from UW and CSE.

  2. Intended population(s): Does the plan identify the characteristics of participants from the HIUGs, including school level (e.g., African-American undergraduates or female high-school students)?

    PIs should be fairly specific indicating the underrepresented groups you are targeting and their age group: K-12, college students, graduate students, post graduates, etc.

  3. Strategy: Does the plan describe activities that address the goal(s) and intended population(s)? Is there a clear role for each PI and co-PI?

    PIs should describe the content, such as Robotics, fabrication, Arduino or other electronics, programming, user design, big data, graphics, animation, computer vision, NLP, or computer science theory. They should describe the actual activity form (workshop, after school program, hackathon, etc.) as well as any existing partners that the program has, and the time and place of the activities.

  4. Preparation: Does the plan describe how the PI is prepared (or will prepare or collaborate) to do the proposed work?

    PIs should describe any personal BPC prior experience, not just diversity activities in their institution. If they have no prior BPC experience, they should explain what resources they will use to better understand the needs of the target group.

  5. Measurement: Is there a plan to measure the outcome(s) of the activities?

    Measurement can be done in a number of ways, including pre- and post-surveys, or evaluations done by a partnering organization. There are ways to disseminate the activity to others using the CSE News Blog. The activity could be described in a SIGCSE experience report.

Note: If you are using a Connected plan, many of these components are probably described or partially described in the referenced Departmental Verified BPC Plan.

Additional things to know:

  • Do not confuse Broader Impacts with Broadening Participation.
  • The activity does not have to be at all related to the proposed research.
  • The activity does not have to be novel – expanding or even replicating successful DEIA work is permissible.
  • Although outreach to K-12 is often popular, BPC activities can be directed at any level of CS education.
  • PIs are encouraged to include their students (graduates as well as undergraduates) in the planned activity but each PI must have a significant role as well.
  • You may propose activities that require additional funding. The BPC budget (to be specified in the 3-page writeup) does not count toward the max specified in the solicitation but is treated separately (much like proposals that include REUs at award time) – see the answer to NSF CISE BPC FAQ #7.
  • Find the answer to many other questions in the NSF CISE BPC FAQs.
  • See BPCnet’s list of Common Mistakes.

2. Writing a Standalone BPC Plan

With this option, the PIs do not reference their department’s Verified Plan and can propose any DEIA activities they choose, using the entire 3 pages allocated for their plan. They should include specific, significant roles for PIs and cover the 5 components of a meaningful plan. Allen School PIs choosing this route are encouraged to align their work and that of their students with the Allen School’s very extensive 5-Year Strategic Plan for DEIA. There is additional information on DEIA activities in the Allen School here.

Examples of specific BPC Activities undertaken by CSE PIs and graduate students that would have made very strong Standalone BPC Plans:

3. Writing a Connected BPC Plan

With this option, PIs propose to work on specific activities listed in their department’s Verified BPC Plan. The Allen School’s Verified BPC Plan is posted on BPCnet.org. It does not list all of our many ongoing activities due to page constraints. Nonetheless, it serves as a statement of goals and provides a guide for faculty regarding activities that they can easily tie into when crafting their own project-level BPC Plan. The Allen School’s Verified BPC Plan contains the following activities:

  • A1. Retargeted summer camps
  • A2. Lab-in-a-box outreach materials
  • A3. Allen School K-12 teacher professional development
  • A4. Deepen engagement with target secondary schools
  • A5. Expanded on-campus recruitment efforts
  • A6. Expanded and coordinated undergraduate research activities
  • A7. Increased connections to organizations that are potential sources of graduate students from HUGs
  • A8. LEAP Alliance - now undergraduate (Cohort 4) as well as graduate (Cohort 1)

To submit a Connected Plan, the PI must join one or more of these 8 activities. The PI should get in touch with the listed contact for each activity in order to develop specific roles for themselves and their students. The first page of their plan will describe those roles and their prior experience with DEIA activities. The last two pages of their plan will be the two pages of the Allen SChool’s Verified BPC Plan.

Note: Though the BPCNet Plan addresses most of the 5 components for a meaningful plan already, it is possible to include additional material to that effect on the PI’s first page.

4. Additional Resources and Assistance

To assist PIs in developing their BPC Plans, CISE funded the Computing Research Association (CRA) to build and curate the BPCnet Resource Portal. It has lots of useful information, including templates, suggested activities, a wide range of resources on DEIA and opportunities for consultant services.

The Allen School's DEIA-related staff are eager to help you figure out how to craft your project-level plan so that it amplifies the Allen School's overall efforts. If you decide to contact anyone on the staff, it will be most productive if you do so well before your submission deadline!

  • Jan Cuny (jcuny@cs.uw.edu), Director of DEIA Strategy and Operations, whose previous work at NSF developed and led the CISE Broadening Participation and Education in Computing efforts.

In addition, the Allen School Undergraduate Diversity & Access team plans many events and activities, and is happy to consult with you on logistics and best practices for working with K-12 students, including drafting a budget, liability considerations, and recruiting participants. Typically, the Diversity & Access team provides advice on logistical support, while faculty collaborators provide the actual logistical support along with content and instruction.

Note: If you plan to collaborate with local schools, please send information on your work to outreach@cs.uw.edu, so the team can coordinate their work with yours. They can also suggest schools to you based on the target population you hope to engage:

  • Chloe Dolese Mandeville (cdolese@cs.uw.edu) Assistant Director for Diversity & Access, whose focus is undergraduate diversity equity, inclusion, and access (including outreach, recruiting, and support).
  • Leslie Ikeda (ikedal@cs.uw.edu) Senior Startup Program Manager whose focus is undergraduate student support and retention.
  • Elise deGoede Dorough elised@cs.uw.edu) Director of Graduate Student Services, whose responsibilities include graduate program diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Les Sessoms (lsessoms@cs.uw.edu) Graduate Recruitment & Retention Specialist, whose focus is graduate student recruitment, support and retention.

Faculty members Dan Grossman, Richard Ladner, Ed Lazowska, and Jennifer Mankoff also have significant engagement in School-wide activities.

Below, we list the following types of resources:

4.1 NSF Resources

4.2 Allen School Resources

There are many additional resources on the Allen School’s DEIA website. Check the Ongoing Activities tab of that site to find other Allen School programs to work with.

4.3 COE Resources

COE DEI activities primarily focus on pre-college and undergraduate support for women, underrepresented minority students, and students from low-income backgrounds. Faculty interested in collaborating on any of the programs below can find individual contacts on each program webpage. Before reaching out, though, check with the Allen School contacts listed above - the Allen School has ongoing relationships and activities with many of these programs, and tying in through the Allen School would be advantageous. College of Engineering programs include:

  • Washington STate Academic RedShirt (STARS) program that supports engineering and computer science students from low-income, first-generation, and underserved backgrounds in navigating the transition to college-level engineering courses. 50% or more STARS students are Allen School students, and we provide significant financial support to STARS. (See Chloe or Leslie for information on STARS.)
  • Promoting Equity in Engineering Relationships (PEERS) includes a course that teaches students to teach their peers to be change-agents for increased diversity.
  • Minority Scholars Engineering Program (MSEP) program that promotes academic excellence, facilitates leadership skills, and fosters community of engineering scholars. Students take part in academic workshops and seminars, attend the Men of Color in Engineering Leadership Series, and connect with identity-based student societies.

4.4 University Resources

  • DO-IT Scholars is a summer program for high school students with disabilities.
  • GSEE: Graduate Student Equity & Excellence (formerly GO-MAP) works with graduate students, faculty and staff to strengthen and maintain campus diversity while enhancing academic opportunities for graduate students of color and encouraging scholarship and research that explores cultural diversity.
  • Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium has UW as a member. The Space Grant Program supports students from high school and beyond with research internships.
  • UW Undergraduate Research Program promotes undergraduate research university wide and sponsors the Mary Gates Research Scholarships.

4.5 Community Resources

  • The Pacific Science Center has many programs, including summer camps, and interacts with UW.
  • The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) has worked for the past twenty years to improve access to STEM and technology fields for students of color and underrepresented communities. The TAF @ Saghalie School already has a relationship with the Allen School. (See Chloe.)
  • Geeking Out Kids of Color (GOKiC) works on tech education with racial equity and social justice.
  • Puget Sound Computer Science Teachers Association lists local computer science teachers who may be interested in working with UW faculty on projects. The Allen School has a CS for Teachers program for WA teachers each summer.
  • Girl Scouts of Western Washington have many K-12 girls who work on badges – and lots of technology badges that faculty and students can help them with. (Jan and Chloe have connections.)
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of King County actively recruits partners to work on a variety of STEM projects.

4.6 National Resources

Many national resources focus on broadening participation, and may provide program ideas and potential partnerships:

  • The Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) is a congressionally mandated committee at NSF that provides advice to NSF leadership about broadening participation issues. They produce a biennial report to congress that has lots of data and provides priorities for congressional action.
  • The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides statistics and other information about participation in CS and other STEM fields based on gender, race, ethnicity, and disability. See the “Status and Trends in the Education of Racial and Ethnic Groups.”
  • The Grace Hopper Celebration, organized by AnitaB.org, is the largest conference for women in computer technology in the world. Female students and faculty at all levels are encouraged to attend.
  • The ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, organized by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT), is the major conference for minorities and people with disabilities in computing fields.
  • STEM Summer Outreach Programs webpage compiled by Lawrence Livermore National Labs
  • The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is a leading organization fostering the success of African Americans in STEM fields. They hold an annual conference. There is a vibrant UW chapter.
  • The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) is a leading organization fostering the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in STEM fields. They hold an annual conference.
  • NSF-Funded BPC Alliances:
    • The Alliance for Access to Computing Careers (AccessComputing), located at UW, focuses on students with disabilities nationally.
    • The Computing Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI) focuses on Hispanic students.
    • CRA-WP, the Computing Research Association’s Committee on Widening Participation in Computing Research, runs a number of DEIA programs, including the Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) – a very successful program that matches women and minoritized students with faculty (usually from some other institution) for a summer of research. They also run programs at the graduate, new faculty and Associate Faculty level.
    • The Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computer Sciences (iAAMCS) focuses on African-American students.
    • The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is the major organization supporting women in computing fields with a focus on research and community building. They support a number of active alliances including the Academic Alliance, Affinity Alliance and K-12 Alliance. They hold an annual NCWIT Summit.

Best practices found at NCWIT, BRAID, or ACM SIGCSE may help in arguing for the efficacy of your activity.