Black Girls CODE is a nonprofit based in San Francisco whose vision is to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology. As described by founder Kimberly Bryant, a Memphis native and Vanderbilt alumna:
When I was first introduced to computer programming, as a freshman in Electrical Engineering, Fortran and Pascal were the popular languages for newbies in computing and the Apple Macintosh was the new kid on the block. I remember being excited by the prospects, and looked forward to embarking on a rich and rewarding career after college.
But I also recall, as I pursued my studies, feeling culturally isolated: few of my classmates looked like me. While we shared similar aspirations and many good times, there’s much to be said for making any challenging journey with people of the same cultural background.
Much has changed since my college days, but there’s still a dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions, an absence that cannot be explained by, say, a lack of interest in these fields. Lack of access and lack of exposure to STEM topics are the likelier culprits.
So how did Kimberly become the change she wanted to see? By launching Black Girls CODE, and providing hands-on opportunities through workshops and after-school programs for girls to learn technical skills like video game design and mobile app development. BGC recently earned a first place Award Laureate in the 2012 Innovation in Philanthropy Awards.
Now Kimberly is bringing program home to Memphis, with the help of local champions Pamela W. Kelly, Meka Egwuekwe, Dominique Anderson, Tonya Meeks and Brenda Buckman. On February 16 they will host Black Girls CODE: Build a Webpage in a Day Memphis, a day-long workshop hosted by Rhodes College. Girls from ages 10-17 are encouraged to sign up and enjoy a fun and educational way to start heading toward — or creating — the jobs of tomorrow.
And here is where you come in: girls can apply for need-based scholarships, but for those to be available we ask that you support BGC and select the “sponsor a girl” ticket option here.
Also they need volunteers! Certainly those with relevant web developer skills are encouraged to step forward, but no matter your technical skills the organizers need event volunteers (including pre- and post-event). You can fill out a volunteer application online, but you are also invited to a Black Girls CODE Memphis launch reception at EmergeMemphis (516 Tennessee St.) on January 15 from 6-8pm. The event is free but please RSVP online here.