Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC)
The National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) is committed to broadening participation in computing (BPC).
CISE strongly encourages meaningful actions that address the longstanding underrepresentation of various populations — including women, persons with disabilities, Blacks and African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders — in computing and closely-related disciplines.
THE CISE BPC INITIATIVE
A CISE BPC Pilot was launched in July 2017 via a Dear Colleague Letter, with the goal of encouraging thoughtful engagement of and meaningful action by the community on the long-standing issue of underrepresentation in computing. This effort was informed by prior recommendations of the CISE Advisory Committee and built upon CISE's long history of support for BPC.
The ongoing CISE BPC effort requires that CISE Principal Investigators (PIs) include meaningful Project BPC plans in proposals submitted to a subset of CISE’s research programs. Currently, these programs include:
- Medium proposals submitted to the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE): Core Programs in its Computer and Network Systems (CNS), Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF), Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS) divisions, and the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC);
- Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC);
- Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS); and
- Expeditions in Computing programs.
CISE’s merit review and feedback process is designed to ensure that the Project BPC plans are meaningful, include concrete metrics for success, and that progress toward goals is included as part of project annual reports. CISE is also conducting an evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the approach and to determine appropriate next steps, including potential further expansion of this effort.
The CISE BPC initiative complements the Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program. The BPC program supports expanded efforts to pilot, implement, and evaluate BPC activities through Supplements and Demonstration Projects.
For more information on the CISE BPC Effort, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
TYPES OF BPC PLANS
A BPC Plan describes how a PI or department will contribute to Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) in a meaningful way. There are three types of BPC Plans:
- Standalone Project BPC Plan: Describes BPC activities and how the submitting PIs will engage in them.
- Departmental BPC Plan: describes the current focus of BPC activities across one or more departments or academic units, and what the department(s) have committed to do to address the underrepresentation of certain populations.
- Connected Project BPC Plan: lists PI engagement with activities from a verified Departmental BPC Plan (verified by BPCnet.org).
SUGGESTIONS FOR DEVELOPING BPC PLANS
A goal of the CISE BPC effort is to encourage thoughtful engagement of and meaningful action by the community on this long-standing issue. A meaningful BPC plan can answer positively to the questions in the following five elements:
- Goal and Context: Does the plan describe a goal and the data from your institution(s) or local community that justify that goal?
- Intended population(s): Does the plan identify the characteristics of participants from an underrepresented group listed above, including school level (e.g., African American undergraduates or female high-school students)?
- Strategy: Does the plan describe activities that address the stated goal(s) and intended population(s)?
- Measurement: Is there a plan to measure the outcome(s) of the activities?
- PI Engagement: Is there a clear role for each PI and co-PI? Does the plan describe how the PI is prepared (or will prepare or collaborate) to do the proposed work?
CISE PIs, especially those new to BPC, should choose activities that correspond to their level of preparation. Every effort should be made, however, to articulate a plan in which the actions and impacts are clear and compelling. Therefore, BPC Plans should:
- Leverage existing, successful diversity and/or outreach activities that are available in their departments, on their campuses, or across their local regions. You can find ongoing and recommended activities on BPCnet.org.
- Focus on specific barriers or challenges that are present in the context of your institution. BPC plans should be responsive to several factors: intended population(s) that is (are) underrepresented, geographic location, type of engagement (national, regional, institutional, departmental, classes, and/or research group), type of activity (e.g., student and faculty retention, outreach and recruiting, etc.), level of engagement (post-graduate, graduate, undergraduate, K-12), institutional support, and most importantly, one’s vision for addressing underrepresentation.
RESOURCES AVAILABLE ON BPCNET.ORG
- Guidance (e.g., checklists, templates) on developing Project BPC plans that PIs are required to submit as part of their NSF proposals
- Guidance on developing Departmental BPC Plans
- After a Departmental BPC Plan is verified by BPCnet.org, PIs can submit it as part of their Connected Project BPC Plan
- Resources that may help PIs and others pursuing BPC activities (e.g., incorporating an existing BPC program or activity)
- Links to the NSF-supported Broadening Participation in Computing Alliances
- Information about workshops and other events sponsored by CISE on the BPCnet Events page
- Access to BPCnet.org Data and Statistics Hub
- A free BPC Consultancy service funded by CISE to assist faculty in writing BPC Plans
- A place to submit Departmental BPC Plans for verification
For further information about the range of CISE's BPC efforts, please contact CISE-BPC@NSF.gov.
Website last updated 10-15-2022.