The EECS Department is pleased to announce a $1 million gift from the Hopper-Dean Foundation in support of diversity initiatives in Computer Science. Over the next two years, we anticipate this effort will touch thousands of students at Cal and high schools nationwide. The Hopper-Dean Foundation funds will support a comprehensive outreach and retention model that combines best practices in high school teaching with an expansion of the recent – but already proven“ Berkeley CS Scholars program.

“The support from the Hopper-Dean Foundation came just in time to help us maintain and expand our critical outreach programs, especially as the Berkeley campus faces very severe budgetary pressures over the next few years. The generosity of the Foundation is so much appreciated in these challenging times. I want to recognize the Department’s outstanding Students Services Staff, who put together a winning proposal in record time!” said Randy Katz, Chair of CS Division.

Our High School Initiative focuses on high school computer science teachers and is led by Computer Science Professor Dan Garcia, recipient of multiple UC Berkeley excellence in teaching awards as well as the ACM Distinguished Educator Award and the NCWIT Undergraduate Mentoring Award. In response to a NSF Program Manager Jan Cuny’s charge to change the face of computing by engaging and preparing 10,000 teachers to teach computer science courses, Professor Dan Garcia and colleagues have developed our non-­major computer science class CS10: The Beauty and Joy of Computing (BJC) into a course that is fully aligned with high school Academic Placement (AP) specification. The plan is to accomplish this objective via an edX Small Private Online Course (SPOC) experience, with the high school teacher in control. The course recently received national exposure when we had more women than men in an intro CS course for the first time since records were digitized.

“We at BJC are just delighted at the recent news of the gift from the Hopper-Dean foundation in support of diversity in high-school computing! Our BJC course, which has seen such success in broadening participation in computing at Cal (our local BJC course regularly has 50% women enrolled, who usually perform better than their male counterparts), is one of the handful of courses used in high school for the new Advanced Placement CS Principles course, which goes live for the first time this Fall, with the first AP exam to be offered in May 2017. There is an incredible push, nation-wide, to get the course into as many high schools as possible, and to reach groups traditionally underrepresented in computing. We have already offered professional development (PD) over the past five years to more than 245 high school teachers, and over 300 have filled in our interest form for PD this summer! This grant will allow us to continue to develop resources and provide teacher support for the online BJC “Small Private Online Course” (SPOC) on edX. It provides engaging videos, readings and lab activities with auto-grading of programming exercises that teachers have told us is incredibly useful in their classes,” said Professor Dan Garcia.

Our Undergraduate Initiative will bolster and expand the pilot CS Scholars program, which has already proven successful at attracting Berkeley students from diverse and less-advantaged backgrounds into computer science and providing them with crucial support for admission to the highly selective UC Berkeley Letters and Science Computer Science (L&S CS) major. CS Scholars is designed to support students of diverse backgrounds in the first three lower-division CS courses required for admission to the major. Priority is given to students with high potential from under-resourced high schools and/or economically disadvantaged families, and also to students who are the first in their families to attend college. Evaluations by EECS faculty show stronger performance by CS Scholars as compared to the overall class, and particularly strong performance for women in the program. This is especially noteworthy given that CS Scholars focuses on students who have no prior coding experience.

Funding from this initiative will directly help our most diverse Berkeley students interested in computer science, help to make the CS10K vision a reality and will enable us to better serve high school teachers, and ultimately students, on a national level.