First Birthday Series: The future of CSCCE’s community of practice

For our “First Birthday Series” of blog posts, we took some time to reflect on CSCCE’s community of practice, which turned one year old on 21 October 2020. In this final post in the series, jointly authored by Communications Director, Katie Pratt and Center Director, Lou Woodley, we look back on CSCCE’s seed funding, how the Center is supported now, and our plans for a financially sustainable future.

Previous posts in this series outlined the community “by the numbers,” delved a little deeper into our programming offerings, discussed our resources and the importance of co-creating together, and summarized how our working groups and special interest groups operate and further our mission. Together, these five blog posts celebrate year one of CSCCE’s community of practice, and look ahead to the future of the Center. 

How we started

In late 2015, Lou received initial seed funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to establish the Community Engagement Fellowship Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The program set out to improve collaboration and community building in science by providing a year-long professional development opportunity to scientific community managers. 

It quickly became apparent that while the Fellowship was doing what it set out to do – equipping a cohort of individuals with actionable frameworks and a standardized vocabulary for effective community management – there was much more to the story. And so, the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement (CSCCE) was born. Lou instigated a research program to look more carefully into how community managers can and do have a major impact on the way science is done, and began developing training programs and resources to expand the impact of the center beyond the Fellows. 

Our revenue streams today

In 2019, the Center left AAAS and struck out on its own as a fiscally sponsored project of the non-profit, Community Initiatives. Today, generous seed funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation continues to support what we do (including our most recent award). But, we also increasingly receive revenue from several other sources: 

Consulting

We work with a variety of clients including research collaborations, grant-funded diversity initiatives and infrastructure organizations. Recent projects have included developing new curricula, planning and delivering community programming, and advising on specific needs such as technology selection or virtual events. 

For example, we recently worked with The Carpentries to develop and deliver training for their brand new Feedback Facilitators program. We are also working with the National Microbiome Data Collaborative as they build out a champions program of their own, and are supporting the Environmental Data Science Inclusion Network (EDSIN) as they develop and support a network of data scientists interested in DEI topics.

Training

In addition to consultancy, we also deliver trainings in a range of formats, from webinars to multi-month workshops. Our clients include National Science Foundation-funded programs and the American Physical Society. 

This Fall, we also rolled out our online modular trainings, with a pilot cohort of “Scientific Community Engagement Fundamentals” now at its halfway point. In January 2021 our Winter session will begin, and will include three course offerings: 

Registration is now open! 

Research grants

CSCCE staff also collaborate and lead community-focused research projects including looking at the impact of community managers in online broadening participation communities. Some of these are grant-funded, and we welcome invitations to future projects.

Exploring ways to work with us

We are always open to discussing new collaborations. If you are looking to refine or develop your community engagement strategy, work to elicit culture change in your organization, or need help planning a virtual or in-person event, we may be able to help. We can work with you as consultants, trainers, or grant co-investigators. If you’re curious to learn more, or have an idea for how we can work together, please email info@cscce.org.

Where next? A new sustainability task force

To inform how the Center grows and matures in a community-led way, we will be forming a new task force in early 2021 to consider several aspects of our sustainability. Topics that we would like to involve this group in exploring include additional financial sustainability models, access and inclusion, and next steps for our Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP).

If you would like to apply to join this task force, please fill out this application form by Friday, 11 December 2020. Depending on the volume of applicants, we aim to notify successful task force applicants by the end of the year, and hold our first virtual meeting in January 2021. 

Donate today! 

As of this week, you can donate to support CSCCE’s mission. Your donations, large or small, will help us continue to create, deliver, and curate community programming, produce free resources, and support making our courses accessible to diverse participants. Thanks for supporting us on our journey – we’re excited to keep growing! 

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