The Ascend Project is a 6 week, full time training program that provides financial support, equipment, meals, transit, and childcare reimbursement in order to remove many of the barriers to immersive learning in Open Source technology. The goal is to allows participants time and support as they focus on learning common open source practices: IRC, bug trackers, code review, version control, creating & committing patches, as well as the larger opportunities available to those who can leverage the tools and be developers of the open web.
The curriculum (coming soon) will focus on setting people up to succeed, with daily goals that provide a clear understanding of at least one new concept or skill daily, all building up to getting hooked on solving problems with code and being a confident member of the larger tech community with a base built on the practice of contributing to Open Source for global good.
The intention of the selection process, targeting audience for participant application, and development of the course material is to explicitly invite participation from the many populations that are either completely ignored, or sometimes actively pushed away from participation in computer science and open source projects when costs & systemic barriers make it too difficult to join in.
We need more voices and ideas in technology from a wider set of backgrounds and ways of thinking about problems if we are to truly develop high quality products that benefit the global community of users who should all have equal access to, and opportunity on, the open web. Using the development of tests for Firefox products, this course material gives each participant a tangible goal and an “I did that!” moment by its end. This will hopefully be the launching point for further participation in open source, inspiration to learn more, perhaps returning to school or getting set up in an internship to continue on a new path with a significant contribution to a large project under their belts, forever in the public domain as proof of this experience and the learned skills.