Taking aim at the K-12 education space,KC Digital Drive and Hive KC Learning Community have just launched the Hive KC Digital Drive Fund. The fund is designed to support local projects and organizations that promote youth learning through digital technology.
The first recipient of Hive KC Digital Drive funding is Tech sHeroes. An initiative of KC Women in Technology, Tech sHeroes encourages 7th and 8th grade girls to seek out careers in technology, learn to code and take on tech-related projects to benefit their school and community. Google Fiber has generously granted the first $5,000 in seed funding for the project.
The education-focused Hive KC Digital Drive Fund is the latest development in KC Digital Drive’s ongoing mission to uplift grassroots initiatives that use technology to bring social change.
KC Digital Drive was first commissioned by the Mayors’ Bistate Innovations Team in 2012 to implement a digital playbook for the region. One of the “plays” in the book was to pilot next-generation apps that would use the power of Google Fiber and other gigabit networks to make Kansas City a better place to live and work.
Working in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, Mozilla, and U.S. Ignite, in March 2013, KC Digital Drive held the first Hacking the Gigabit City hackathon to spur development of apps that would use the gigabit framework to deliver services. More than 130 developers and technologists joined over a weekend to explore ideas ranging from interactive online education, to telemedicine in schools, to 3D urban planning. Another hackathon, Gigabit Explorer Challenge, followed in November 2013, with support from US Ignite.
The winners of the first Hacking the Gigabit City were invited to compete for a $500,000 pot in the Mozilla Ignite Challenge. Soon after, Mozilla, with support from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Ignite, created the Gigabit Community Fund. So far in 2014, $300,000 has been awarded to two dozen educational projects in both Kansas City and its gigabit sister city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Of the nine Kansas City projects to receive Gigabit Community Fund grants, four began at our gigabit hackathons: Bonner Springs Fire Dept, Reconciliation Services, PlanIT Impact, and Fitnet Health. (A fifth grantee, Big Bang, was incubated at KC Digital Drive’s 1 Billion Bits meetup.)
Welcoming the Hive
Meanwhile, as the relationship between Mozilla, U.S. Ignite, KC Digital Drive and the wider Kansas City educational community solidified, Mozilla selected KC as the next location to receive a Hive Learning Community.
Like its counterparts in cities such as New York, Chicago and Toronto, Hive KC is a member-based group of teachers, educators and youth-serving organizations collaborating across open networks to enhance their profession and deliver more innovative experiences to youth.
With Hive KC firmly established, KC Digital Drive saw an opportunity to collaborate to support locally grown projects in the education field that might otherwise fall through the cracks.
“As the Gigabit Community Fund allowed high-bandwidth powered projects like Fitnet and PlanIT Impact to take off, we found a lot of other projects worth funding that don’t necessarily need the gigabit,” says Aaron Deacon, Managing Director of KC Digital Drive. “The Hive KC Digital Drive fund creates a mechanism for us to do that.”
Tech sHeroes is the first to benefit from this new mechanism. KCWIT plans to launch the program in the fall.
Meanwhile, the KC Hive Digital Drive Fund is looking for more contributors, partners and projects.
If you would like to know more about the fund, including how to donate or have a project funded, contact Kari Keefe