For those of you not aware of this project let me give a brief overview.
I am spearheading an outreach program that involves building a TechBus. This bus is designed to support 3d printing, electronics and computer workshops. The bus will travel to Cincinnati inner city schools to provide awareness about these technologies and career paths. Often times in these school districts a career in tech is not even on their radar. Some groups try to solve this by volunteering to give classes at the schools but often run into problems with the equipment. Either being too few or too locked down to be useful. Another solution I’ve seen groups use is to host classes in a college lab like Cincinnati State. This can have problems of requiring parent involvement, extra time on the weekends and only focused on a select few of the students.
This is why we are building a TechBus. We can bring the lab to the students. Think of it like the book bus but for modern technologies. Having the bus there is not enough. One of the main objectives of this program is to see more involvement from minorities in technology. The students will need to be able to connect to the instructor as somebody they can relate to.
So I am using a two phase approach to building this program. The first phase is to get the funding to build the bus. The second is to work with existing groups in Cincinnati that are working on the same goals to provide the instruction.
So far I have identified a manufacturer in Chicago that can build the bus for us. I have an estimated cost for the creation of this program and for it to run for a year in Cincinnati. The cost is $200,000. This provides a bus, the 3d printers and equipment on the bus and a bus driver.
I have also reached out to some organization in Cincinnati such as Blacks in Technology and BDPA who are also will and excited to help on this project.
Now I am at the point of fundraising. I need to find contacts and write proposals. This is an area I struggle with. I am meeting with United Way for some help tonight (and may not make it to Lock Forensics because of it) but if anyone has any skills or can provide help with anything that has been mentioned I would greatly appreciate it.
Now that I feel this project has solidified I will provide updates when things are happening.
This is really cool!
Can you elaborate more on "building" the bus? Is it a school bus? An
RV? Are they building a bus from scratch? Repurposing an old one? Have
other cities done it before?
Unfortunately I don't have much experience with fundraising (other
than selling pizza after school in high school ), but off the top
of my head I'm thinking contacting CPS, other school districts, and
area universities for donations (money, equipment, or advertisement).
It might be good to get in touch with other "tech in education"
organizations such as Crayons to Computers and Cincinnati Computer
Cooperative. You could even get in touch with incubators like
Cintrifuse, if you think of this as a "startup".
Having converted and refurbished RVs in the past (electrical, gas, water, axles, etc.) this excites me greatly. Please tell me it has a huge battery bank, and is diesel (and therefor convertable to Waste Veggie Oil (F brewing biodiesel, time consuming, GREASE WEASEL FTW.)
No, it won’t be a mad max style bus. We are going to buy a custom bus specifically designed for our purposes. See attached PDF for examples.
South Carolina State University Classroom.pdf (218 KB)
Mobile Classroom - Labs Models Overview.pdf (2.02 MB)
This is an excellent project!! I’m willing to help write proposals and/or edit them, please let me know what I can do. (My experience with grant writing is limited to some small research and service project grants, but it’s a start…)
One funding idea: if you get a University of Cincinnati student group involved in the project, they will be able to apply to the University Funding Board. If you want to go for this idea, I can start looking for an interested group.
I met with some folks from United Way last night and they gave me a lot of great advice.
One thing that would be good to have is a proper business proposal. Basically just something that lays out all of your initial and re-occurring costs to run this project on a yearly basis. I have a request for a more specific and detailed quote for the bus but have not heard back yet. I could use some help in writing up or researching some type of template to fill in.
I have a friend that is involved with donations in Seattle and I will ping her while I’m there next week. I was told that a lot of sponsors want to know who else is a sponsor before they say yes. So getting the first sponsor is really important. Some sponsors will want to do challenge grants. It basically says: the company will match contributions up to X. If at all possible I want to see if I can get one sponsor before doing a Press Release. I will then ping Soapbox to run the story to help get publicity and hopefully raise more funds. I have a list of a few other groups I’m going to contact once I get a story run that I can point to.
I don’t know anything about the UC student group but it sounds like a great idea. I would love to get UC as a backer to the program. We will probably be asking for at least $50,000 from each company in sponsorship. Of course we can take less. But it would work similar to kickstarter rewards. If you are a big investor you get your name/logo on the bus. Smaller investors maybe on the desktop wallpaper…etc.
So if you have any contacts at UC, please reach out to them or put me in touch with them so we can have a meeting.
A proper business proposal sounds like a good place to start. I should have a bit of extra time this weekend to research what should go into it…a few example of a successful proposals would be great to find.
To clarify about UC student groups, there’s 100+ official student groups at UC that all have the right to apply for student organization funds from the University. This is usually a few hundred or few thousand $, so it would be a relatively small chunk for the techbus. Getting student volunteers might be more valuable than the money. As a grad student I haven’t been involved in the undergrad groups much, but at least 3 I can think of would likely be interested–Alpha Phi Omega (service fraternity), the Robotics Club, and the Future Science Girls (trying to bring science excitement to underprivileged girls).
To get “real” sponsorship from UC, I’d actually start at the top by contacting the office of President Santa Ono. Ono is a biology PHD, and he frequently talks up science and research as a University priority. He’s also usually pretty good about
listening to students, so as an immunology grad student myself i might be able to get his ear.