Plan your Award Event

Award Event Preparation and Planning

Hosting a local award event is exciting and rewarding! The applicants and awardees of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program represent a rich and viable source of young women highly qualified to enter the computing and IT workforce. Recognizing and encouraging their interests at this early stage could be the catalyst that propels them into studying computer science in college and ultimately pursuing a career in computing and information technology.

Committee Hospitality & Venue

Using the Affiliate Committee structure explained elsewhere, a committee chair has already been designated to plan and manage the award event. The award event committee members can come from industry, non-profits, or the academic community. We highly recommend recruiting past award winners to advise on planning an event that best serves the needs of the awardees, in addition to using the results of the Event Evaluations that NCWIT compiles for your Affiliate. If you would like to be connected to a local award winner, email All committee members must register via the portal.

Ideas for venues can be found in many areas. Hosts can include your local university or community college, industry corporations, K-12 organizations, or a team of organizations working together. Local award programs can be any size, serving an entire State, region, or metro area.

Tons of ideas for what a venue might be, and possible ways to decorate, are visible by perusing our photo albums collected over the years.

Event Invitations  


Your budget and venue selection will dictate how many people you can invite to the award event. Some of those people might include:

  • Awardees: both winners and honorable mentions & their guests (parents, teachers, family)

  • Committee members

  • Aspirations Community Members (past awardees)

  • Collegiate Award Finalists from the current year in your area

  • Media

  • College students in Computer Science or Engineering

  • Award reviewers or other volunteers

  • Government officials (Mayor, School District Superintendent, etc.)

  • Technical Professionals

  • Potential sponsors for next year

Most affiliates use a free online invitation and RSVP program like, or to send invites and manage RSVPs. You can customize the invitations to the Award using the Award logos and photos from the NCWIT Flickr site.

Programming & Content


The style and format of your event is completely up to you and should be within your budget parameters. There are many great ways to recognize these accomplished young women, from a full-scale event just for the Award recipients, to honoring them in conjunction with another tech-related event in the community. The minimum requirement is that you recognize the award winners in some kind of public ceremony and that each winner receives her trophy - presented at the event. An additional trophy will be sent directly to the school for her high school's trophy case.

2019  AiC Award PowerPoint Template

Here are some ideas from past award ceremonies:

The Bay Area award was held onsite at the Computer History Museum. Award recipients attended with up to two guests each. The program included a panel presentation of women in technology from the Silicon Valley area, with a Q&A session with the winners. Technical women also sat with the winners and their guests over lunch. Each of the award winners (25) was given an opportunity to speak when they accepted their award.

El Paso held an evening dessert reception on the UT El Paso campus on a Thursday night. This event was very inexpensive to produce as it was held on campus and only dessert and coffee were served. However, the event did a great job of building community and was attended by over 50 people including award winners and their families, high school representatives, members of the UT computer science faculty and ACM chapter, and corporate representatives.

Illinois had winners from all over the state, but the most were located near Chicago. They presented the awards at an afternoon dessert on a Saturday at the DePaul campus in downtown Chicago. This enabled families driving from a distance to also enjoy some time in the city.

The South Florida Affiliate Award winners were honored in conjunction with an event being held by a networking organization called ITWomen. They were already holding a Saturday luncheon with a panel of female CIOs. The Aspirations Award presentations were incorporated into their luncheon program just for the price of the lunch.

Austin had a small number of Award winners and chose to have an intimate dinner with the award winners and their guests, committee members, presenters, and technical professionals at the AT&T Conference Center on the UT Campus.


The purpose of the event is to recognize the Awardees. Speakers, dignitaries, recognizing sponsors and other activities should be secondary but can be inspirational.

Some Affiliates choose to have a keynote speaker for the award event, but it is not required. If you do have any speakers, please use the "Talking Points for Presenters" to help make sure that your speaker is sending an appropriate message for young women in computing. If you have speakers or others, it's great to ask them to participate in presenting the awards and pose in the photos with the girls.

Idea: Invite a member of the media (TV or radio personality) to be a speaker or help present the awards. This will help ensure coverage of the event. The event program should last no longer than 2 hours. If you are anticipating a large number of award recipients (20-25), make sure to plan your event accordingly. It can take a long time for 25 girls to process to the stage, receive the award, take a picture, etc.


Affiliates should request bios from all awardees. These can be read at the award event. Reading the bios of the awardees helps acknowledge the awardees’ many accomplishments and can be very impressive to the audience (and sponsors). The bios are typically included in the Event Program, which can serve as a keepsake for the Awardees. You may consider asking recipients to cut their bios to a certain length, suitable for reading aloud, in order to keep the ceremony moving along.

Do NOT wait until just a few weeks before the event. Note: Awardees are technical and use a lot of acronyms in their essays. Make sure the person reading the bios at the event recognizes the most common tech acronyms and their common pronunciation (and how to pronounce the acronym NCWIT!).

You will need photos of the Award recipients for the Event Program and Presentation. Include the request for a headshot in your award event communications with the awardees. This request can also be made in the notification email that asks awardees to agree to accept the award. Work with the Review/Selection committee to include this info. Be sure to ask them for a high-resolution (min 1MB) headshot. Make sure to ask far in advance, as some are slow to respond, have a hard time finding an appropriate photo, or don't check their email often. We ask for the headshot as part of their profile, but they often upload low quality images that won't work for your program, so make sure you take a look ahead of time.

Template for program


You do not have to have a professional photographer, though many Affiliates do. If you hire an event photographer, expect to pay $150-$300 depending on the length of the event. Make sure to ask for a non-profit rate. Chances are there is someone on your committee (or a partner, friend, student at the university, etc.) that does photography as a hobby. Make sure to try to get this for free before hiring someone. 

All of the Awardees and their parents will have signed a photo release online in the process of applying for the award. If your event venue (if held at a corporate or campus site) requires a separate release, simply have the Awardees and their parents sign the release upon check-in. You may also post a sign or include in the presentation slides that the event is being photographed.

Important: When hiring the event photographer, make sure that the contract assigns all rights to the photographs to NCWIT and that they agree NOT to use the photos in their portfolio without express permission from NCWIT. Since the Awardees are minors, the photos cannot be used for any purposes unrelated to the Award. 

Required Photos 

  • At a minimum get a group photo of the entire slate of award winners
  • Upload it, along with any other photos, to NCWIT's account on Flickr.
  • (if asked, say "I'll secure my account later" when asked to Verify the account)
  • Create a new album in this format: the award Year + your Affiliate Name (e.g., "2019 New Jersey") for your uploads
    •  Your accurate Affiliate Name appears on your Dashboard, on your Trophies, under "Connect Locally", etc.

Other Photos

We also recommend taking casual (unposed) photos of the event including girls interacting with each other or adults at the event.

We ask that you DO NOT upload these photos to other sharing sites, to ensure the privacy of the award recipients and require that the photos are only used for the purposes outlined in the photo release. 


When presenting the Awards, it is nice to have them assembled on a table on the stage or at the front of the room. The awards are clear glass and look very nice over a black or dark tablecloth, but many clever ways to display trophies and goodies can be seen at the flickr site full of photos.

Trophies and SWAG on display at an AiC Award event









Though it can be exciting to watch young women juggle glass trophies while shaking hands, the truth is that an award recipient can really only safely hold one at a time! 

It is useful to have 2-3 people available to help with presenting the awards including handing her the gift bag (or delivering to her seat).

If the room is large or crowded, it is best to have the award recipients sit up front to facilitate a smoother ceremony - ideally in the order you'll recognize them. We also recommend seating the young women together (or in groups with their escorts) to help them get to know each other.


The purpose of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is to let these tech-savvy young women know that we want them to stay in computing and technology. A great way to do this is to overwhelm them with goodies from the various sponsors. Working with the other committees, ask participating organizations and local businesses to donate "SWAG" items (Stuff We All Get) for the award recipients. This could be water bottles, t-shirts, flash drives, mouse pads, pens, pedometers, etc. Most companies and universities have a supply of these items on hand for promotional purposes. This is also a great way for the organizations participating in your affiliate to share information about themselves with the award recipients and their family.

Idea: In Illinois, participating universities wrote personalized letters of invitation to each of the award winners with a recruitment packet from the school (along with some cool SWAG).

Final Preparation for Event Day

Go over our proposed Checklist before Event Day to help you prepare for all the details that will be important at the event!