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Introducing the F# Software Foundation Programs

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The F# Software Foundation oversees all aspects related to F#. This includes the technical side as well as promoting the language and offering services to its members such as its mentorship program. InfoQ reached out to Reed Copsey, Jr., executive director of the foundation, to learn more about the foundation’s role and its programs.

InfoQ: What is the role of the F# Software Foundation?

Reed Copsey, Jr.: The mission of the F# Software Foundation is to promote, protect, and advance the F# programming language, and to support and facilitate the growth of a diverse and international community of F# programmers. From its humble beginnings as a grassroots organization, the F# Software Foundation has grown into a registered US non-profit with nearly twelve hundred members. We strive to connect people using F# as well as those interested in using F#, and providing programs which help everybody learn and grow together.

InfoQ: Can you explain what the mentorship program is and how it works?

RC: The Mentorship Program is one of our endeavors related to the education of our membership. While many resources exist to try to get more information online or in a large group setting such as conferences and meetups, we found that many people learn best in a smaller, more intimate setting.

The Mentorship Program was started by our Education Working Group in order to help these developers grow. It works by connecting potential mentors, ranging from experts with a specific focus to intermediate developers, with appropriate mentees for dedicated, one-on-one mentorship and training. The personal nature of this program enables a unique focus on individual needs to be met, and can quickly lead to deep learning which is impractical in group settings.

Our initial round of mentorship was a trial with ten mentors and ten mentees. It was a huge success. Our latest round has grown tremendously - we had nearly 150 applicants, and were able to help make 42 unique pairings for the current round of mentorships. Pairings vary greatly in experience, location, and interest, with participants scattered throughout the globe. The range of topics goes from beginning with F#, to using F# in specific settings such as web development, contributing to open source projects, all the way up to pairs focusing on contributing to the F# compiler itself. Each pair commits to spending at least one hour per week for a few week period together, with the mentor being able to target the learning and focus on the specific needs of their mentee.

InfoQ: What are the other programs of the foundation?

RC: Most of our programs are education and community focused. We strive to do everything possible to enable F# developers to learn, and expose other developers to F#.

Our Core Engineering Working Group is currently holding regular meetings related to making sure F# is a first class citizen in .Net Core, with experts helping guide the community with understanding how projects will need to migrate to the new platforms and project structures.

Our Speakers Program is focused on connecting potential speakers with groups where they can speak. This includes everything from being able to register as a speaker with the foundation, trying to match speakers with venues at the request of people looking for speakers, all the way to helping with modest stipends to help reimburse speakers for travel.

We also just began our Affiliated User Group program, where meetups around the world can officially become affiliated with the foundation, who in turn helps with resources and promotion of events. The programs are both detailed on our community pages.

InfoQ: What are the ways developers can contribute to the F# Software Foundation?

RC: The most important thing any developer can do is to join as a member, for free. By joining, developers get included and notified of any programs. They also receive tools to help them communicate with other members. The tools helps collaboration in different situations, such as:
- Get direct answers to questions beginners often face.
- Find open source projects to which they can contribute.
- Hold interactive discussions about advanced topics like compiler design.
- Ask the community for input on design concepts.

This, in turn, helps spread the word about F# and keep people engaged as a community. Those wanting to take more of an active role in the foundation have many options to get engaged. Once somebody is a member, they can become a Sustaining Member, which allows them to participate directly in the governance of the Foundation.

Everybody is also welcome to reach out and join Working Groups of the foundation, which are directly involved in both the day-to-day operations as well as helping guide programs, activities, and more. Working Groups provide a mechanism for people who want to help contribute effort, whether via code, project management, documentation, community engagement, or elsewhere.

Anybody wanting to help with the foundation is encouraged to join as a member, then reach out, either to myself or to any member of the Board of Trustees to find ways to participate.

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