Stimulus Grants Are An IBM i Community Service
September 23, 2015 Dan Burger
The collaboration between the Maxava iFoundation and the IBM i community is expanding and showing some impressive results. The most recent round of grant funding benefited 34 organizations, according to according to information we received from Maxava, the disaster recovery and high availability vendor.
Now in its fifth year, the Maxava iFoundation offers grants to organizations focused on developing the IBM i community by promoting skills enhancement and the recruiting of business professionals to work with the IBM midrange platform. Each year, the grant awards have totaled in the neighborhood of $50,000. The majority of that amount winds up in the hands of local user groups that apply it to the costs associated with bringing guest speakers to their meetings. The grant applications for 2015, however, included several interesting deviations from that formula.
The Southeast Michigan IBM i User Group plans to purchase project management books that will be given to attendees of its November meeting that has a project management topic focus. It also applies grant money to the cost of accessing an IBM i environment through iDevCloud, which offers discounts to local user groups.
“Recently one of our group members used the box to test an IBM i 7.1 feature to see if moving from 6.1 would make a difference,” says SEiMUG President Laura Ubelhor. “Another member has been using the box to learn PHP. Our group will also be using the box for an upcoming student/member activity that teams up students with SEiMUG members to complete an RPG project.”
The Wisconsin Midrange Computer Professional Association also applies grant money to efforts that involve student participation in that group’s annual Spring Technical Conference. According to WMCPA President Jim Buck, the grant money is set aside to pay for travel and lodging and registrations. Buck is an instructor at Gateway Technical College, where students are fortunate to receive many out-of-classroom benefits.
Gateway students in Buck’s RPG program will also be attending the RPG & DB2 Summit next month. It’s a plan that’s been talked about for some time.
“We’ve talked with Jim Buck about bringing students to Summit events in past,” says Susan Gantner, one of the key individuals in the System i Developer consortium that organizes the twice annual Summit conferences. Because the next Summit is in Chicago, approximately a 90-minute drive from the Gateway campus, the logistics were much better.
“We came up with an affordable program for students and applied for a grant from the Maxava iFoundation to make it work,” Gantner says.
In addition to students from Gateway, there will also be students from Muskegon Community College, where Char Parker is an instructor. Parker also believes in the value of getting students involved in the IBM i community. Muskegon Community College is located in Muskegon, Michigan.
The grant money doesn’t pay 100 percent of the costs, but it lowered the costs to where the schools and the students found it manageable. Four students and instructor from each school will attend.
Another grant recipient with a unique idea is Von Enselman, who blogs on IBM i topics on the i Community Blogs site. Her blog is called iThusiasm.
“When I decided to do something with iThusiasm, I always meant for it to be a blog site,” Enselman says. “While I was looking into the costs to do a site, I decided I’d also like to do a women in IT event. (Scheduled for November 18, by the way.) All these things would be out of pocket expenses for me, so I applied to the Maxava iFoundation for a grant. I received some great feedback from Maxava right from the start and I was awarded a grant!”
Enselman expects iThusiasm to be its own blog site soon. Her plans include writing on topics related to community-building ideas and posting links to IBM i-related material that others will find useful.
“I also want to start featuring presenters from local user groups–the people who put something together to present to their LUG or who have an idea for a topic but don’t have a LUG,” she says. “It’s the grass roots education that seems lost these days. Its focus is on people who are still trying to support each other. The goal is to show how diverse and modern the i is.”
Enselman says she’ll use the grant funding to get the blog site up, She’s using WordPress (because it’s created using PHP) and the iDevCloud site (because she wants the blog to run on IBM i). She’ll fund the women in IT event as far as she can on her own.
The 34 applications this year topped the 26 received last year and the 23 applications in 2013. Twenty-two of the 34, are from the United States and 13 from rest of the world.
There were eight new applicants in 2015, including COMMON Poland, COMMON Norway, Power SURG (Sacramento, California), Reno-Sparks Midrange Users Group Nevada), STATUS Fort Wayne (Indiana), OCEAN (Orange County, California), System i Developer and iThusiasm.
The total grant money payout comes to $50,000. But the true measure of the iFoundation’s worth is not the dollar value of the grants. A better measure is the leadership role Maxava takes on in the community. It is engaged as a facilitator of increased engagements.
Maxava iFoundation grants can be used to support activities such as educational conferences and workshops, speaker expenses, marketing and educational collaboration with local colleges and universities and other, similar growth activities.