Open Collective
Open Collective
SPEC 2023 Update
Published on December 21, 2023 by Joe Torreggiani

We are excited to share a recap of everything SPEC has accomplished in 2023, the challenges we faced, and the things we are looking forward to in 2024!

Accomplishments in 2023

  • Created over a dozen paid positions in research, development, and design to support career growth, community development, and open source.
  • Helped multiple people find full-time jobs and supported their continuing education.
  • Worked with fellow OCF collectives Data Umbrella and BuildJustly to build open-source software for their communities and technology initiatives.
  • Developed a partnership and memorandum of agreement with Of Ash and Fire to enable more opportunities for collaboration on a broader range of projects, including a long-term engagement with Rocketship Public Schools.
  • Published new issues of the Journal of Engaged Research on feminism, equity, and neurodiversity.
  • Released a new version of SPEC's website
  • Completed our partnership with the RAND Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy, including releasing a dedicated project site
  • Released a special edition of the JoER on Equity Standards.
  • Successfully built and tested the open-source Insights Agent project in partnership with BuildJustly.
  • Developed an official partnership with Rocky Mountain Communities (RMC) and hired a community member to support their computer lab initiative.
  • Released a proof of concept event board site for Data Umbrella.

Challenges & Learnings

  • Finding sustainable funding has been the biggest challenge in 2023.
  • It has been difficult for SPEC with its limited resources and part-time team to effectively secure grants.
  • The collective reached 75 people who have joined our Slack channel over the last 3.5 years.
  • We have 25 active members in our Slack channel, and our core team has grown to 11.
  • We experimented with using the open-source Mattermost messaging platform as an alternative to Slack, but the maintenance overhead was too high.
  • We have received a lot of positive feedback that SPEC's community and peer support network have been really impactful for individuals joining SPEC to further their careers; not just in their job search but also in mental health and wellness.

Plans for 2024

  • Releasing a website redesign project for Luskin Orthopedic Institute for Children.
  • Beginning to work with Open Source Medical Supplies to re-envision their website and device library.
  • Continuing to publish new issues of the Journal of Engaged Research.
  • Growing the open-source Tilly farming robot project.
  • Collaborating with RMC to develop a community website and computer lab program.
  • Supporting Data Umbrella with the continuing development of the event board project.
  • Developing new learning resources and initiatives to engage learners.
  • Looking for new projects and partnerships working on sustainability and social impact!

Please reach out if you would like to learn more about our collective or interested in developing a project or partnership. Wishing you all a lovely holiday season and a happy new year!