EXCLUSIVE: Google to donate $190K to train black, Latino teen girls in computer programming
Google will announce Saturday a donation to the Black Girls initiative, which will teach 75 black and Latina teens how to build a mobile app in one day. The goal is to diversify the white, male-dominated tech industry.
By Stephen Rex Brown
The city’s next generation of female computer programmers are in for a big download — of nearly $200,000.
Google will announce Saturday a donation of $190,000 to the Black Girls Code initiative, which seeks to diversify the white, male-dominated tech industry.
Saturday’s bilingual session at Google’s Chelsea headquarters will teach 75 black and Latina 12- to 17-year-olds how to build a mobile app in one day.
“Our goal is to change the face of technology by showing the world that girls of color can code and do so much more,” said Kimberly Bryant, founder of the nonprofit with seven chapters across the country and one in Johannesberg, South Africa.
The six-hour session will use a simple development kit that allows the amateur coders to create apps using programming “blocks” similar to puzzle pieces. Each block represents different commands and functions that, when combined, animate a program.
The New York City outpost of Black Girls Code is the fastest-growing of the bunch, and the Google grant will allow the tech group to hire its first full-time employees in the city.
William Floyd, head of external affairs for Google in New York, said the search giant had a vested interest in fostering a more diverse group of potential hires.
“For New York to grow as a tech center, we need to deepen and diversify the talent pool and build a pipeline for diverse groups to become involved in the industry,” Floyd said.
Statistics have shown that a large percentage of female students in middle school have a strong interest in math and science, but that by the time those same students reach college a mere 3% are still keen on those fields. The initiative aligns with the city’s investment in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — in public schools.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and Mayor de Blasio have frequently spoken about the importance of having students ready for STEM-related fields like health care and computer programming, which are growing at twice the rate as other sectors, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics.
As the tech industry booms, it has simultaneously come under criticism for a lack of diversity. Google disclosed in May that its staff is 61% white and 70% male.