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 Wednesday, July 09, 2014
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) today announced a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Commitment to Action, valued at $3.71 million dollars, to engage 10,000 middle school girls in learning computing concepts. The announcement was made at the CGI America meeting in Denver.

NCWIT’s Commitment to Action will scale the successfully piloted NCWIT AspireIT initiative, which enlists technical high school or college women in designing and leading computing programs for younger girls. This innovative “near-peer” approach allows young women to become role models and build leadership skills while encouraging younger girls to pursue computing.

"This initiative was born from young women’s enthusiasm for technology and desire to pay it forward,” said Ruthe Farmer, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer of NCWIT. "Who better to invite girls to explore and experiment with technology, than the young women they look up to and aspire to be like? NCWIT AspireIT provides the national infrastructure needed to harness this energy and rapidly bridge the computing education gap for thousands of girls nationwide”.

Research shows that peer influences can have a positive effect on girls’ plans to pursue computing. “Near-peer” role models serve as real-life examples of other girls interested in technology and computing while reducing the effects of stereotype threat – reduced confidence and performance when one is reminded of gender stereotypes, such as “girls are not good at math or technology”. Find out more with NCWIT’s Girls in IT: the Facts (www.ncwit.org/thefactsgirls) report.

"Not only has leading an AspireIT program been a tremendous benefit for the students but I have also learned to challenge myself to take charge and inspire the girls through my love of technology,” shared Noor Muyhi, a computer science student at New Mexico State University and an NCWIT AspireIT Program Leader. “My goal is for every girl in the program to feel 110% supported and to leave the camp with a spark of curiosity towards technology fields".

The NCWIT AspireIT pilot has launched 70 programs, providing an estimated 115,000 hours of computing education to over 2,000 girls in 23 states. To fulfill the CGI Commitment NCWIT will engage 600 high school and college members of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program and 250 partner organizations to co-create and deliver 400 computing-focused after-school programs for middle school girls across the country through 2018. Find out more at www.ncwit.org/aspireit.

Commitment partners include the Intel Foundation, which provided the initial startup funding for NCWIT AspireIT and has made a long-term investment in scaling the program, with additional support from Google, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, Microsoft, Sphero, the UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, and Tata Consultancy Services. Partners provide financial support, technical assistance, hardware and software, curricula, and volunteers to work locally with the programs.

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