Departmental BPC Plans

A Departmental BPC Plan is a 2 page document that serves to coordinate BPC activities within a department (or college, school, or other similar unit) and provides context for the activities proposed by PIs in their Project BPC Plan. Your Departmental BPC Plan is a dynamic plan that can be updated over time as your Departmental BPC activities change. Watch NSF CISE AD Margaret Martonosi discuss the importance of Departmental BPC Plans.

This 2 page document should include current and newly initiated goals and activities. Many institutions find it helpful to have an internal document that helps PIs identify how they can contribute to the plan and include it in their Project BPC Plan.

To begin, download the Template for Departmental BPC Plans:

Concerned about your BPC Plan’s activities due to Covid-19? Get some tips to write or adapt your plan for an online setting.

The guidelines below were updated in January 2020. For questions on revising your plan in accordance with these guidelines, please contact bpcinfo@cra.org.

Checklist for Departmental BPC Plans

Each Departmental BPC Plan should include the components in the following checklist, all of which are required in order to be submitted for verification by BPCnet. Your final version should be no more than 2 pages, including the header.

1. Header

  • Includes the institution’s name and the name of the department.
  • Includes a start and end date for the Departmental BPC Plan.
  • Includes a date by which preparation of the next version of the Departmental BPC Plan will begin.
  • Includes the name, role, and contact information for the individuals responsible for overseeing the Departmental BPC Plan.

2. Context 

  • Relevant, currently available data is included and related to the goals. BPCnet has a curated list of resources for Data and Evaluation.

3. Goals 

  • At least one specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goal is included. See a list of Example SMART BPC goals here.
  • At least one goal is focused on BPC as defined by NSF (race/ethnicity, gender, disability) and all goals are focused on BPC as broadly defined. (Note that Project Plans submitted to NSF will need to refer to the parts of the Departmental Plan that are focusing on BPC as defined by NSF.)
  • Each goal may be additionally motivated by currently available data disaggregated by the demographic group addressed in that goal.

4. Activities and Evaluation 

  • Each BPC goal has some activities and evaluation that are aligned with it. Additional BPC activities and evaluation that are ongoing in the department but not aligned with the provided departmental BPC goal(s) can be included with less detail or omitted. BPCnet has a curated list of resources for Selecting BPC Activities and Data and Evaluation.
  • Most activities are overseen by a specific person or people.
  • It is always clear whether an activity and evaluation is new or ongoing.

Example Departmental Plans

BPCnet has many examples of Departmental BPC Plans, which our BPC Consultants have verified as meeting the Departmental Plans checklist. See the Verified Departmental BPC Plans page for a current list of these verified Departmental BPC Plans.

Common Mistakes in Departmental Plans

The following list of common mistakes may help you with your Departmental BPC Plan.

Deciding what to include in your BPC plan:
  • Don’t assume your BPC activities need to be novel or creative.
    • Instead, use or adapt existing programs or develop partnerships in your local context. Check out the BPC Activity Library on BPCnet for a listing of existing BPC activities your department can participate in.
  • Don’t necessarily include everything your department is doing.
    • Instead, describe the activities that are the central focus of your BPC initiatives during the timeline of the plan. Consider having an internal document to list all activities and additional department-specific context.
  • Don’t over-promise or describe a scope that you don’t have the resources or expertise to carry out.
    • Instead, describe a scope of activities consistent with your capacity, context, institutional resources, and partnerships. Consider focusing your plan on data collection if you are just getting started.
  • Don’t assume that all K-12 student outreach will broaden participation in computing. 
    • Instead, create a plan that uses inclusive curriculum and pedagogy within a context that serves K-12 students who are from groups underrepresented in computing.
  • Don’t forget to include at least one activity that contributes to each goal.
    • Instead, consider writing a SMART goal for each of your activities or a goal shared by multiple activities. (Note: You can include additional activities that do not align with one of your goals.)
  • Don’t write your plan to benefit “all students” only.  
    • Instead, make sure your plan addresses the underrepresentation within computing of women, African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and/or persons with disabilities.
  • Don’t plan to improve a number you don’t know.
    • Instead, include a goal to measure it first.
Writing your BPC plan:
  • Don’t omit definitions of acronyms that describe groups of people.
    • Instead, enumerate the groups covered by the acronym. For example, instead of “historically underrepresented groups (HUG)” say “students from historically underrepresented groups in computing (HUG; i.e., students who are American Indian or Alaska Native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander)”. 
  • Don’t imply that students or faculty from groups underrepresented in computing are lacking ability or other individual characteristics that would require you to lower your standards. 
    • Instead, identify how your plan addresses biases in evaluation or gaps in opportunity. 
  • Don’t forget to describe your context through comparisons. 
    • Instead, include your local context (e.g., the number and demographics of students in your department compared to people at your institution, region, state). If you don’t have the relevant data, include collecting this data as part of your activities.
  • Don’t provide instructions to your faculty about how they can get involved.
    • Instead, include that information in an internal document.  
  • Don’t claim current activities are successful without evidence.
    • Instead, hedge your claims, include currently available evaluation data, or include activities to collect relevant data. 
  • Don’t conflate group and individual terms in your writing.
    • Instead, if an activity is benefiting people, use terms where people are the subject. For example, instead of saying you will fund participation by groups that are underrepresented in computing, say you will fund participation by students belonging to groups that are underrepresented in computing.
  • Don’t refer to individuals as “underrepresented”.
    • Instead, describe the populations they are part of (or identify with) as underrepresented. For example, “students from groups underrepresented in computing” rather than “underrepresented students”. 
  • Don’t refer to individuals as “diverse” as a euphemism for their race, gender, or disability status. 
    • Instead, use “diverse” only when you mean that a group contains a mix of people not typically considered part of the same population.
Implementing your BPC plan:
  • Don’t forget to evaluate the impact of your BPC activities.
    • Instead, consider including data collection as part of your plan activities from the start.
  • Don’t leave your plan on the shelf.
    • Instead, schedule regular meetings to revisit your BPC plan with your team and measure your progress. Revise your plan as needed.