Scotland’s Digital Xtra Fund is to make an additional £150,000 available to support computing science and digital skills focused extracurricular activities for 2016/17.
Applications will open in early October and eligible organisations will be able to bid for grants from £1500 to a maximum £25000 per project.
The Digital Xtra Fund launched in May 2016 and is part of a wider programme of activity dedicated to developing digital skills and making extracurricular computing science activities available to all young people aged 16 and under, whatever their background and wherever they live in Scotland.
A total of £250,000 was awarded to 12 projects in August 2016, supporting a diverse range of activities including the use of wildlife cameras to help school pupils learn to code using Raspberry Pi computers, coding taught through local libraries, and a forensic investigation project.
The Digital Xtra Fund has been developed and funded by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership whose partners include Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Funding Council, Education Scotland, ScotlandIS, and industry representatives.
Funding is intended to support enterprising organisations that give young people opportunities to learn computer science related digital skills and contribute to widening the provision of extracurricular computing science related activities across Scotland.
The Scottish Government strategy sets out an ambitious plan to make Scotland a world-class digital nation by 2020. Over 84,000 people work in digital technologies roles across the Scottish economy and skills development will be an integral component in helping young people prepare for the digital future.
Phil Worms, Computing and Schools Project lead at tech industry body ScotlandIS, says:
“At a time when the Scottish digital technologies sector is forecast to grow and there is increasing demand across the economy for staff with high level digital technology skills, it is clear that the talent pipeline in Scotland needs to expand to meet this demand.
“More young people should be encouraged to study computing science related subjects at school, college and university and redressing this balance is crucial to ensure the competitiveness of Scottish companies both within the digital technology sector and beyond.
“The Digital Xtra Fund aims to make a real and lasting impact in the provision of extracurricular computing science related activities for young people aged 16 years and under across the whole of Scotland. Projects that will be considered for grant funding must clearly demonstrate scalability, sustainability and innovation.
“The core objective of the Digital Xtra Fund is to increase the number of young people learning computer science related digital skills in an extracurricular setting. Therefore, projects should show clearly how participants will be involved in digital making and what computer science related skills they will learn.”
Collaborative applications involving different partners and more than one extracurricular initiative will be encouraged as well as projects that foster greater links between industry, young people and the wider community.
The fund is due to open for applications in early October with funding expected to be awarded towards the end of 2016.