Announcing a new grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support CSCCE’s transition to financial sustainability

We’re delighted to announce that CSCCE has received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to support us as we chart a path to financial sustainability. This blog post offers an overview of our plans, with more details about specific projects to come in future posts. 

The path to date 

CSCCE grew out of a Sloan-funded fellowship program (CEFP) that provided professional development and peer support to scientific community managers, an emerging profession existing at the intersection of disciplines and skill sets. Since the transition to our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives, almost two years ago, CSCCE has grown in size and impact. We’re now a team of four staff members, we’ve supported community managers at more than 100 organizations through our courses and consultancy in the past year alone, and we’ve published materials that have been downloaded almost 15,000 times.

Today, we continue to offer professional training through an expanding online learning curriculum, and we also pursue research into scientific communities and community managers and deliver consultancy for community-oriented organizations to help solve problems common across the field. 

At the same time, our community of practice of scientific community managers has grown from 40 CEFP fellows when it launched in 2019 to rapidly approaching 350 members. We’ve delivered regular programming including monthly community calls, three staff-led working groups, and responsive programming during the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., virtual social hours and community tools trials), as well as publishing a weekly Slack roundup and a monthly newsletter. 

Charting a path to financial sustainability

We want to be around for years to come, both continuing the work we are doing at the grassroots of community management in STEM, as well as expanding our reach and working with more communities to make science a more collaborative, inclusive, and equitable space. 

To that end, earlier this year, we spent several months working with a business consultant, who interviewed members of the CSCCE sustainability task force, assessed the current market landscape, and applied their understanding of non-profit development to chart out a financial model for CSCCE. Thanks to this generous new funding from the Sloan Foundation to help us bridge the gap and support key roles and technical infrastructure, we are now able to test that financial model.

In essence, this is a shift to being ever-more intentional in our offerings, based on what we’ve learned over the past few years. You can expect a menu of more streamlined consultancy options coming later this year, as well as a growing collection of training options to choose from – including mini-workshops, multi-week courses, and webinars. We’re also seeing demand for an institutional membership program, which we’ll be trialing in 2022. 

Regardless of how our paid offerings evolve, we’ll continue to provide free community programming via our community of practice, as well as sharing free-to-download resources. This is in line with our commitment to being radically community-driven and supporting a wider culture change in STEM fields so that the human infrastructure for healthy and productive collaborations is increasingly valued and supported. 

What you can expect from us over the next few months

Over the next few months, you can expect to hear more details about our next steps – including various ways to give input into the process via focus groups, surveys and discussion sessions.

We are currently advertising a new Membership Director role, so if you are interested in helping us as we continue to grow, check out the job description here. Whoever fills this role will help us develop and launch an institutional membership program while also building out the technical infrastructure to support our member-facing projects.

N.B: membership of the CSCCE community of practice, along with our core CoP programming, will remain free and open to all who identify as STEM community managers. 

If you have questions, comments, or concerns we always welcome inquiries and feedback, so feel free to email us at info@cscce.org. We’re open to coffee chats or more formal informational sessions, just let us know!

With gratitude

We are grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their ongoing support of our work and for sharing our vision of the importance of human infrastructure in STEM.

We are also continuously grateful to the members of our community of practice. We do what we do in consultation with you, and our thinking about our offerings evolves with every Zoom meeting, community call, and Slack conversation as you give us feedback on what you need and what’s resonating. Thank you.

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