Computer Science (CS) Innovation Fellow
Title: Computer Science (CS) Innovation Fellow
Location: Oakland, CA
Reports to: Curriculum + Instruction Director
Position Type: 18-month Fellowship
The Level Playing Field Institute is now SMASH! SMASH Academy, a program that US News and World Report called “Perhaps the most ambitious program to encourage African American and Latino students in STEM fields” is heading into its 15th summer this year. SMASH is an organization committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and fostering their untapped talent for the advancement of our nation.
Founded in 2001, SMASH is an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that serves as the education focus area of the Kapor Center. SMASH operates year-round STEM-focused academic programming that serves underrepresented high school students of color. In tandem, SMASH conducts research examining inequity in access and opportunity across K-12, higher education, and workplace contexts in order to improve the outcomes for underrepresented students in STEM fields.
SMASH Academy is a five week, three-year Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) residential academic acceleration program for motivated, high school students from underrepresented populations (African-American, Latinx/Hispanic, Southeast Asian and/or Pacific Islander, and Native American), who have demonstrated an aptitude for science and math.
When SMASH scholars graduate from SMASH Academy, they are in their senior year of high school and officially become a part of our SMASH Alumni Program. The alumni program includes, but is not limited to: Senior College Preparatory Program, SMASH Rising Internship Preparatory Program, SMASH Alumni Board, SMASH Alumni Summit, Alumni Newsletter.
This is a pivotal time for SMASH as we begin building on the success of our education programs, we are embarking on an aggressive expansion strategy to achieve national impact. Working at SMASH is about fast growth, personal commitment and the tenacity to challenge the status quo. This is not for the faint of heart. But if you think you have what it takes to dare to change the face of STEM. Join us.
At SMASH, we envision a STEM ecosystem where every scholar, regardless of the zipcode they grew up in, has the opportunity to participate in and thrive in the tech innovation economy. We believe that technology can transform how we work and, in turn, yield tremendous social impact.
In 2013, through an NSF grant, we developed and implemented a CS course sequence within the SMASH program with the aim to prepare SMASH students for AP CS and increase participation among underrepresented students of color in AP CS. Currently, SMASH scholars across all sites take 37.5 hours of CS each summer, with courses that include content from ECS, AP CS P, and AP CS A.
The CS Innovation Fellow is a role designed to bridge the current gap that exists between our scholars and technical careers by providing them access to a strong foundation in computer science. As a CS Innovation Fellow, you will have a leading hand in addressing the serious gap of underrepresented people of color taking and passing the AP CS exams, completing CS-related majors and securing high potential technical roles. You will work closely with the Research Team and Curriculum Team to design and launch an innovative, comprehensive CS strategy across SMASH that will ensure our scholars leave SMASH equipped with CS skills necessary for college and careers in computing. In addition, you will participate in discussions about expanding CS education access and impact beyond the SMASH program, with the aim of addressing larger trends of underrepresentation in CS education
This is a great opportunity for someone excited to envision, create and build out robust programming. It requires thinking outside of the box and managing details while keeping the big picture in mind.
Key responsibilities include but are not limited to those listed below.
- In conjunction with the Curriculum and Instruction Director, develop a vision and strategic plan for a 3yr computer science program within SMASH designed to prepare students to take and pass designated AP CS exams (inclusive of clear computing pathways, curriculum, training, and implementation)
- Identify challenges and opportunities to increase the participation and success of SMASH students in all CS courses, particularly AP CS
- In collaboration with the Kapor Center Research Team, identify opportunities to expand CS education beyond SMASH, including in local school districts serving SMASH
- Apply Design Thinking and Lean Startup frameworks to the design and roll out plans
- Identify national performance instruments, metrics, and predictors of computer science engagement, in conjunction with the Research Team
- Develop a comprehensive roll out plan for implementation of 3yr computer science program
- Develop roll out plan for implementation of 3yr computer science program
- Manage implementation of program (logistics, record keeping, research, communication, etc.)
- Regular 1:1 meetings with the Curriculum and Instruction Director, and other program meetings with team
- Travel as needed for professional development, planning, and programming
- Collaboration: Exceptional communication skills; professionalism; excellent time management and organizational skills; timeliness and dependability; ability to have difficult conversations
- Relationship Building: Respect for individual differences of everyone in the room; humility; patience when addressing situations; ability to listen to multiple perspectives; restorative approach to relationship building and conflict resolution
- Problem Solving: Remain curious, innovate, iterate, and quickly pivot as needed; keep activities on task, think creatively, and act swiftly in the face of unexpected events
- Resilience: Approach situations with a growth mindset, adapt, and reflect to ensure desired outcome(s) are met
- Bachelor's degree in a CS-related field, advanced degree and/or experience in education preferred
- Strong technology background and record of implementing technological innovation in support of teaching, learning, and research
- Strong understanding of content, pedagogy, and barriers to AP CS participation among underrepresented populations and how to address said barriers
- Knowledge of 21st Century skills
- Demonstrated effectiveness in program development (CS program design a plus)
- Demonstrated commitment to working with underrepresented populations and individuals of diverse backgrounds
- A belief that ALL scholars are capable of high achievement in CS
- Commitment to SMASH and Kapor Center’s mission to increase STEM and CS diversity; willingness to embrace goals/values is essential
- Results-driven; Comfortable working around potential obstacles to ensure all goals are met and deliverables are completed
- Experience with innovation labs, design-thinking, and project-based learning
- Proficiency in structuring, delivering, and facilitating learning experiences using a blended learning model, project-based pedagogy, media techniques, or online education
- Self-starter with ability to work on multiple initiatives at the same time; excellent project management skills
- Energetic and entrepreneurial spirit about innovative education models and nonprofit organizations to shift paradigms
- Desire and ability to work in a fast-paced, collaborative, team environment
If you are missing some of the qualifications, but feel you would be amazing at this role, we want to hear from you. Please apply and share why you would excel given the opportunity.
SMASH provides competitive compensation commensurate with experience, and an excellent benefits package including medical, dental, vision, life/disability insurance, paid time off, 401k, volunteer time and flexible spending accounts (i.e. parking, transit, medical and dependent care). Our collaborative office is located in Oakland’s dynamic Uptown District. SMASH shares the building with several professional service and nonprofit organizations. We also hold community-building events and have a collegial atmosphere with a shared mission for social justice and educational equity.
Statement of Non-Discrimination
In keeping with our beliefs and goals, no employee or applicant will face discrimination/ harassment based on: race, color, ancestry, national origin, religion, age, gender, marital/ domestic partner status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, or veteran status. Above and beyond discrimination/ harassment based on "protected categories," SMASH also strives to prevent other, subtler forms of inappropriate behavior (e.g., stereotyping) from ever gaining a foothold in our office. Whether blatant or hidden, barriers to success have no place at SMASH.