Funding applications are now open for this year’s grants programme from Digital Xtra Fund to increase the number and diversity of young people learning key digital skills.

Digital Xtra Fund was launched in May 2016 with the main purpose of boosting interest of young people in computing and technology through extracurricular activities. In March 2017, the Fund became a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) enabling it to partner with a wide range of industry partners. Since then, the charity has been backed by businesses, government, and individuals with a common will to help young people succeed in a digital world – with the goal “every young person in Scotland have access to inspiring and meaningful digital tech activities”.

The Fund’s aims are to:

· Enable high-quality, exciting digital skills activities across the country

· Inspire young people to understand, create, and innovate with technology, not simply consume it

· Engage our industry partners with supported initiatives giving industry experts and young people an opportunity to connect in informal and creative settings

Over the years, the charity has supported various tech initiatives which teach young people skills such as computational thinking, coding, robotics, cyber skills, and data science while also highlighting the future career opportunities these skills provide. Thus, inspiring the next generation of developers, designers and digital leaders to understand and create with technology, rather than simply using it.

The model is very straightforward – the Fund works with their partners to identify, finance, and assist extracurricular tech initiatives across the country. Current partners include AWS, Baillie Gifford, CGI, Chroma Ventures (4J Studios), JP Morgan, Scottish Government, and Skills Development Scotland (SDS) as well as Accenture, BT, Cirrus Logic, Fujitsu, Incremental Group, Micro:bit Educational Foundation, ScotlandIS and Skyscanner.

Since its inception, the Fund has awarded 80 grants totalling £635,000 helping organisations engage nearly 36,000 young people. During its sixth round of grant awards, the Fund awarded 22 grants to help schools and organisations engage another 7,292 young people in the year 2021/22. The next round of grant awards (Round VII) for the year 2022/23 are now open. Supported activities must be delivered between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 and delivered entirely in Scotland. Activities must also focus on engaging young people aged 16 and under. Applications are welcome from UK-registered companies, charities, chartered bodies, local authorities, schools, colleges, or universities actively involved in the provision of computing education or digital technology related activities, especially for audiences from excluded groups or backgrounds (such as pupils from areas of high deprivation and/or rural isolation, girls and young women and/or minority groups). Eligible organisations can apply for grants from a minimum of £500 to a maximum of £5,000.

Whether you are just starting out with a new micro:bit coding club or planning to participate in global competitions such as FIRST® LEGO® League or the VEX Robotics Competition, Digital Xtra Fund is keen to support any exciting and stimulating extra-curricular activities that appeal to young people. This year, applicants will be required to submit their applications via online form found on the Digital Xtra Fund website. To help applicants with the grant application, Digital Xtra Fund will also be delivering 2 webinars while the funding is open. The final deadline for submissions of the grant application is Tuesday 5 April 2022 at 15:00. To find out more about eligibility criteria, online application and details about the webinars, please visit: https://www.digitalxtrafund.scot/apply/

Digital Xtra Fund also encourages applicants to incorporate programmes such as Young STEM Leader Programme, Digital Schools Awards and iDEA badges as part of the proposed initiative. And to help contextualise the skills being learned, applicants would also benefit from involving STEM Ambassador Programme, or even volunteers from Digital Xtra Fund partners as they can provide positive role models, first-hand examples, guidance, and support with the delivery of the project.

For more information and updates, please follow Digital Xtra Fund on Twitter (https://twitter.com/DigitalXtraFund), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/digitalxtrafund/) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/digital-xtra-fund/). Or sign up to their newsletter https://www.digitalxtrafund.scot/newsletter/

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