When technology giants Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple released their diversity numbers in the Spring of 2014, many onlookers – both inside and outside of Silicon Valley – were shocked. The hard truth about the underrepresentation of diverse groups within these companies – from women, to Blacks, to Latinos – in technology is a trending topic.
Prominent leader Jesse Jackson has “called on the Obama administration to scrutinize the tech industry’s lack of diversity.”
In a recent piece featured in the Washington Post, author Catherine Rampell notes that the problem of diversity starts long before the recruiting process. “The problem starts in the pipeline,” says Rampell. Specifically, she continues, “it begins when kids are young and have access to scant engineering and computer science role models, especially those who are female, black or Hispanic.”
In an effort to reform the existing tech landscape, many grassroots organizations are working to ensure the employees of tech firms, especially in Silicon Valley, more adequately reflect the populations they serve.
Here are four organizations committed to training future tech professionals of color.
Hack the Hood
Founder: Susan Mernit, former VP at AOL & Netscape
Mission: Hack the Hood is an award-winning non-profit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities. During workshops and 6-week “Boot Camps,” young people gain valuable hands-on experience building mobile-friendly websites, executing search engine optimization, and helping businesses get listed in local online directories.
How you can help: Become an ambassador, fundraiser or curriculum developer.
Founder: Tristan Walker, MBA is an Economics graduate from Stony Brook University
Mission: CODE2040 aims to close the achievement, wealth, and skills gaps for Blacks and Latinos in the United States by creating access, awareness, and opportunities in technology and engineering. CODE2040’s flagship program is a summer Fellows Program which places high performing Black and Latino/a software engineering students in internships with top tech companies.
How you can help: Donate, follow Code2040 on Twitter, and share the mission with others.
Black Girls Code
Founder: Kimberly Bryant, a biotechnology and engineering professional
Mission: Black Girls Code aims to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.
How you can help: Donate, volunteer your skills in a variety of areas, sign up a student for an event, shop for BCG gear online.
Founder: Oscar Menjivar, a computer science graduate from the inner-city of Los Angeles
Mission: Urban Teens eXploring Technology (TXT) was created to inspire young at risk Black and Brown boys to become technology entrepreneurs. These boys are at the highest risk of dropping out of high school and being incarcerated.
How you can help: Mentor, volunteer, donate or become a partner.
To learn about more organizations working to bridge the diversity divide, visit Yes We Code. Yes We Code is a national initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become high-level computer programmers. Search their volunteer opportunities online to see how you can add value.