Emma Jane Hogbin had a great idea: do you want to see more $FOO in technology? Make a little scholarship for it.

Having recently transitioned from starving-intern to full-time-employee status without much of a corresponding rise in standard of living (...well, a little - I might buy my dad's 16-year-old car so I can get to and from the office), I now have the ability to help the things I love financially as well as with my copious amounts of free time. And this seems like as good a place as any to start. I'm thinking something like $500, which seems both low and high to me; it's "zomg a month of rent" high, but "pays for 30 minutes of college credit" low, just as a strawman for the time being; could go up, could go down, will probably multiply to cover several scholarships...

I don't know how to go about thinking about this, so I'm hoping people here will be able to help me come up with a good design. I'm thinking mostly of my elementary, middle, and high schools here, but I might want to look at schools in the Philippines as well. This may take another year or two to figure out and put in place, or it could take a week. It all depends on the design parameters.

So... help me brainstorm! You'll notice that I'm placing a high emphasis on follow-up and community support in addition to the $$$ (because I don't have much $, am not used to thinking about $, and frankly, because I believe the real value of a scholarship/fellowship is the mentorship and not the money). Here is what I have so far. (Note that for each of these, I have a teacher or mentor in mind that I would want to name the scholarship after...)

  1. A middle school award for "creative use of open source tech" (for girls?) which gives the recipient a "high school fellowship" - in addition to the little scholarship, every summer between 8th grade graduation and when they start college (and they will start college if I have anything to say about it...*) I'll work with them to figure out a cool (open source) project they want to do, and either mentor them through it or find someone who can. Thus, by the time they apply to college, they'll have adult mentors who can vouch for their work, a kickass portfolio, and a bunch of folks (myself included) who can help them with their college essays. This one I know I can afford; I can always make time to mentor young people.
  2. A middle school or high school award for juniors, for "hacking your own school." (Yes, better wording needed.) Who has worked to improve and modify their own learning experience in a way that works with (rather than against) their teachers and administrators? "Could I modify this assignment? Could we try X? Could I teach $name Y?" rather than "I'm not doing this assignment." (How in the blazes do you measure this?) In addition to the little scholarship, these students (I'd either like to give multiple awards or make this a group award) will get funding and support for running a "teaching open source" unconference during the fall of their senior year of high school, because I think that Glenview, IL could use an adrenaline shot of hacker spirit, and because it will be a kickass thing to list for college apps. Seriously. Kickass. (One could easily see Sugar fitting into this, btw.)
  3. A high school award for "teaching open source" in the Philippines. For high school (or maybe first or second year college) students who demonstrate a dedication towards learning about open source and teaching it to others, a partial college scholarship and funding to organize a FAD sometime during their first 2 years of college. (Again, how do you measure this? And how much is this going to cost me? And how do I target Filipino students - do I go for one school, probably one from my family's hometown? Do I look at OLPC deployments (which would be countries-that-aren't-the-Philippines, unless eKindling changes that) and try to find a student from there? I don't know!)

*unless they make a good case for why they want to do something cool that isn't college - I'm all for that as well. I just want to make sure that it is an "I have something better to do!" decision, not an "I couldn't possibly make it" decision.

I don't want to overreach here; I recognize I'm far too eager at the moment (not just enthusiastic, but let-me-not-think-things-through-wheeee!-eager), which is why I'm stopping to ponder rather than jumping into immediate action. First, I need to make sure that there are communities that I can bring these students into, and that those communities want these students introduced in this way. And then... how do I make absolutely, absolutely sure that I can continue doing these for however long they are expected? Do it year-by-year? Place a sunset clause ("I'll do this for 10 years") and set aside that money now? (I know I definitely don't have enough to make a trust and have these operate off the interest, so that's out.) Is there a better way to spend this money?

Hit these ideas hard. Where are the holes? How could they be improved? What other ideas do you have? College students, what would you have wanted? High school students, what do you want? Professors, what would you like to see? Open source community members, what do you think would help the most? (Do you want to start a little scholarship? Read the HOWTO!)

(Yes, Nikki; excited Mel is excited.)