The Carpentries Strategic Plan: One Year Update

Read on to see how we are progressing towards goals outlined in our Strategic Plan for 2020-2025

In January of 2020, The Carpentries published our Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. Written and adopted before the onset of a global pandemic that has reconfigured the way the world operates, this strategic plan has served as a much-needed guidepost for The Carpentries through a period of uncertainty and change. Outlined in the strategic plan are the following 6 goals:

  1. Build regional and local capacity to empower sustainable communities
  2. Intentionally incorporate equity, inclusion, and accessibility to support a diverse community.
  3. Provide opportunities for growth and professional development of our volunteers and Core Team.
  4. Facilitate the creation and maintenance of relevant, high-quality, community-curated curricula.
  5. Strengthen organisational structure and capacity to be strategic and responsive.
  6. Advocate for our values and vision to empower more people to work with data and software.

Each of these goals carries with it specific objectives and rationale to aid us in implementing them.

In our first year of work towards the Strategic Plan, we have made progress on all of these goals. Our entire Core Team and organisation has come together to ensure that the work of The Carpentries meets or exceeds the plans set out in the Strategic Plan. Read on to learn about the work we accomplished in each goal, and follow the Strategic Plan GitHub repository for quarterly updates.

Goal 1: Build regional and local capacity to empower sustainable communities

In the first year of our strategic plan we built several resources to support both regional and local capacity building, including the CarpentryConnect Planning Kit which is being piloted on the US East Coast, in the Nordics, and South Africa. Our capacity building plan for South Africa was also piloted with many milestones completed including establishing communication platforms for the African Carpentries Community, revising workflows for coordination of workshops and instructor training events in South Africa, and creating a plan to achieve financial stability in the region. We are very proud to have received a grant from Code for Science & Society to fund CarpentryConnect South Africa.

Additionally, we developed resources and support for several of our community segments. The Community Facilitators Program was launched successfully, and we onboarded our first cohort of community facilitators whose focus will be feedback facilitation. Through our IMLS funding we were able to provide seed (free) memberships to 5 libraries: Texas State Library and Archives Commission, California State University San Marcos, Lebanon Public Libraries New Hampshire, Ohio State University, and California State University Humboldt. To support our Member organisation community, we developed an onboarding process to provide Member organisations with helpful resources to navigate The Carpentries community and their membership benefits. This onboarding was piloted with the five new Member organisations who participated in our Library seed membership efforts.

You can view the completed Strategic Plan deliverables under Goal 1 in GitHub.

Goal 2: Intentionally incorporate equity, inclusion, and accessibility to support a diverse community.

Our Community Facilitators Program is a major step in our efforts to support our diverse community. Our feedback facilitators are currently collating feedback from our community on accessibility issues, and you can learn more about their efforts in the Community Facilitators Program repository.

In the first year of our strategic plan we spent a considerable amount of time developing our knowledge for web accessibility in an effort to redesign the carpentries.org website. The Community Development Team considered the challenges and gaps in the current design of our website and handbook and summarised these in a way that will be useful for a designer. We are very excited about what we learned and all of the changes that are coming soon. Get ready for a new and improved, accessible website!

You can view the completed Strategic Plan deliverables under Goal 2 in GitHub. Additionally, check out the blog posts tagged “accessibility”.

Goal 3: Provide opportunities for growth and professional development of our volunteers and Core Team.

In an effort to continually develop skills and perspectives to support a diverse, global community, the Carpentries Core Team, Executive Council, and several Trainers took part in an Inclusive Communication session facilitated by ReadySet. The learning objectives for this session were as follows:

  • Awareness of how bias affects the way we communicate.
  • Understanding of how to approach and have tough conversations and resolve conflict.
  • Skills for inclusive communication and communicating around differences without bias.
  • Understanding of how to establish community communication norms.

The session integrated self-reflection activities with best practice inclusive culture and communications strategies, and was highly interactive and participatory to encourage active learning and engagement with the material. Attendees shared collaborative notes and are using the skills developed in our daily interactions as a community and Core Team.

As a community, we onboarded new Executive Council (EC) members and are piloting a “standing committee” structure to help the EC develop their governance skills. We onboarded new members of the Library Carpentry Advisory Group, new members of the Trainers Leadership group, and a new Maintainer Community Lead.

You can view the completed Strategic Plan deliverables under Goal 3 in GitHub.

Goal 4: Facilitate the creation and maintenance of relevant, high-quality, community-curated curricula.

Goal 4 of our strategic plan is all about our curricula, and in year one of our strategic plan we have made significant progress on the creation and maintenance of our Carpentries lessons and infrastructure. We have prototyped resources for creating, maintaining, and validating lessons using RMarkdown, which allows people to write markdown lessons that can be evaluated in R, Python, SQL, Bash, etc. We have created a resource for building lessons without needing the standard development stack, and instead relying on Docker. This has been well received by members of the Maintainer community.

Having onboarded new Maintainers, we are continuing to develop our Maintainer onboarding process and curriculum, and working towards developing recurring cycles for Maintainer recruitment and retirement. Another major milestone is the launch of our Help Wanted page for lesson contributions and maintenance. We are very excited to see the community react to this page, and grateful for all of your contributions.

The next update to the Instructor Training curriculum will include a review of literature related to core content to ensure that our treatment of evidence-based practices is fully up-to-date. It will also address chronic problems with timing and Trainer uncertainty with content instruction (e.g. workshop website setup). Instructor Training curriculum updates are led by Core Team members and curriculum Maintainers with support from the Trainer community.

Last but definitely not least is our Incubator program. We have received demonstrated interest from the broader community in developing and contributing to lessons. We now have a minimum viable product platform consisting of: a stable repository for lessons; an indexing system for locating relevant materials; and a clear pathway for users to submit content.

You can view the ongoing Strategic Plan deliverables under Goal 4 in GitHub.

Goal 5: Strengthen organisational structure and capacity to be strategic and responsive.

Our organisation has grown so much since our merger, and we are improving the way we operate and support a global community. In year one of our Strategic Plan we explored several potential funding models including developing a sponsorship program and piloting a fundraising campaign. We piloted our first fundraising campaign raising $15,445, and also launched the Carpentries Philanthropy email list. Learn more information by reading the blog posts tagged Philanthropy.

We also made significant progress on our GDPR compliance and will soon be releasing updates to our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

Lastly, we developed and refined several financial workflows to track projected revenue and expenses on a quarterly basis.

You can view the completed Strategic Plan deliverables under Goal 5 in GitHub.

Goal 6: Advocate for our values and vision to empower more people to work with data and software.

One of the privileges we acknowledged in 2020 was the ability to attend more Open Science community events as they were all taking place virtually. Our Core Team and community gave many talks and presentations advocating for The Carpentries, reproducibility, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in data skills training. We also built several long-term strategic relationships with organisations including CS&S, QUBES, Research Software Alliance, ADSA, and FORCE11 to name a few.

You can view the completed Strategic Plan deliverables under Goal 6 in GitHub.

What is next?

We are officially in year two of our Strategic Plan for 2020-2025. This year we will continue to develop and implement resources and programs to support local leadership and Carpentries advocacy. We will work to empower our Member Organisations through the development of programs that plan for and offset associated costs. We will develop workflows to support accessibility, and develop accessible templates and documentation for our community. We will improve mechanisms for participation by investigating ways to support more languages, and better understanding the needs of signing and non-signing members of the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

We will do it all - together.

Community members are encouraged to follow updates in our Strategic Plan GitHub repository.

Dialogue & Discussion

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