Diversity & Inclusion
Women in tech

Baltimore Women in Tech Micro Grant Program increases funding, reach in second year

Organized by SmartLogic, the program provided grants to help eight efforts grow in 2018. Here's how one program took the initial funding for one event and continued the work.

Inside Soldering for Savings. (Photo courtesy of Liz Sundermann-Zinger)

The Baltimore Women in Tech Micro Grant program returned for its second year in 2018, providing more than $7,500 in grant funding to eight projects.

The program, which is organized by Canton software development firm SmartLogic, provides funds to women-led efforts that serve as an entry point and provide support to women in the local tech community.

“Overall, it was a very good year for the program,” said Chelsea Keene, SmartLogic’s director of operations.

With Bold Yellow joining as a sponsor, the program upped available funding in 2018, and also raised the maximum amount of funding available to $1,500.

Keene reported the following figures from the program’s impact report:

  • A total of $7,595.68 was dispersed between the eight projects.
  • The grantees, in turn, supported a total of 17 events. Taken together, the organizations also struck up 15 partnerships.
  • The program impacted 1,928 people, a 46 percent increase over 2017, when factoring in program attendees, grantees, applicants and more. A total of 57.9 percent of those people attended in-person programming, while 39 percent attended virtual programming.

We’ve highlighted several projects throughout the year, including a panel discussion on The State of Black Women in Tech and the public-facing Nonument::McKeldin Fountain. We The Rosies assembled a new sculpture of Rosie the Riveter from 3D printed parts, drawing participation from Mythbusters’ Adam Savage.

The funding to start can provide what’s necessary to grow. That was on view with a program called Save it With Soldering! (Soldering for Savings). Organized by Baltimore County Public Libraries Virtual and Media Manager Liz Sundermann-Zinger, the program offers a curriculum for soldering that’s set up to spread to other librarians. Around the Towson Makerspace, Sundermann-Zinger saw plenty of old equipment getting fixed up, and figured those skills could be spread to everyone and help get folks interested in technology. Using old motherboards and computer equipment donated by STAR Academy as well as kits, the program offered initial training for female librarians in repairing electronics at libraries in Randallstown and Rosedale. In turn, the librarians could then hold the programs held for youth and other library attendees. So with the microgrant providing initial funding, the program was able to set a framework for expansion.

“In addition to teaching people these skills they can use, they’re also seeing women as people who have technology experience and can teach them about technology,” Sundermann-Zinger said.

Projects included the Fly Girls! drone workshop with Global Air Media, support for the Decode Me Space Classroom and Mentor Fund, an event exploring the intersection of technology, art and activism from Fight Blight Baltimore and trips to local tech companies from Girls Who Code.

“These women are doing fantastic things with what is not a huge amount of money,” Keene said. “I’m blown away by how creative they are.”

Companies: SmartLogic

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