More than 2.5 million American youth experience homelessness every year, and among the many obstacles they face, access to job training and assistance in finding employment rank high on the list. Here at GA, we know the power that education can have to transform lives, which is why we are happy to announce that General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund is partnering with the Start from Here campaign to help raise awareness of these issues and participate in addressing employment challenges for economically disadvantaged young people.
When I was awarded the Design For Change fellowship and officially became an Opportunity Fund fellow at General Assembly I felt a deep responsibility along with my excitement. One of the stipulations of the fellowship was to volunteer 100 hours in service to a local organization to teach youth some of the skills I learned in the User Experience Design Immersive.
I felt a responsibility to assist any young person with a similar background as me who wants to pursue a career in technology. I know how isolating it can be to feel under-represented in a field you desperately want to work in. The challenges to entering STEM careers can be discouraging to minority and/or female youth unless they have mentors who they can relate to.
This past weekend, I attended my very first hackathon, the Ignite International Girls Hackathon at General Assembly. The event, part of IGNITE: Women Fueling Science and Technology, sets out to explore the roles of science and technology to advance gender equality in the tech field.
Unlike most first-time hackathon stories, I was not there to code myself.
Instead, I was there as a mentor for the event’s hackers—the incredible ladies of Girls Who Code. The global event called on girl hackers to help create websites or applications to identify, build, or increase access to safe spaces for women and girls—no easy feat.
By now it’s clear that the technology industry is facing diversity issues. These issues are even more intriguing when you consider that by 2020, traditional universities will only provide enough qualified graduates to fill 30 percent of tech-related jobs. This is why we believe General Assembly’s own philanthropic fellowship program, Opportunity Fund, represents a tremendous chance to create real impact and change.
General Assembly is honored to participate in President Obama’s Tech Hire initiative, which will provide a broader on-ramp to technology skills training. This cause is central to our mission of providing the greatest access to training in design, business and technology —to help people from any background find work they love. Just last week we announced an expansion of this commitment through our partnership with Capital One.
We are energized by the Administration’s bold plan and we look forward to working with them to achieve the goals we have set. The following is the commitment General Assembly has made, as outlined on the official White House Tech Hire site:
It was a fierce competition, but we’re thrilled to announce that the winner of our 12 Days of Giving holiday campaign was The Taproot Foundation, a non-profit that drives social change by bringing professional services to nonprofit organizations, pro bono. They’ve just launched Taproot+, a new online marketplace for pro bono, bringing together resources and interactive tools to give nonprofit professionals direct access to the marketing, HR, IT, and strategy services they need.
It’s no mystery that the tech industry’s predominantly white and Asian male workforce is in danger of alienating the increasingly diverse nation — and world — that forms its customer base. Less than a quarter of people employed in computer science- and engineering-related fields are women, and only 1 in 10 are minority women. African Americans make up less than 3% of all scientists and engineers, and Hispanics only 4%.
At the same time, startups and tech companies are witnessing a never-before-seen shortage of employable talent, and current estimates show that by 2020, traditional universities will only be producing enough qualified graduates to fill 30% of available tech-related jobs.
2014 has been an incredible year for General Assembly.
We offered 36% more classes, workshops and events, 122% more total hours of educational programming worldwide, and grew our community (that’s you) by 203% compared to last year.
As a recipient of General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund Fellowship, it is a privilege to fulfill my responsibility to give back by volunteering 100+ hours of my time to the tech community. Working in partnership with All Star Code, a non-profit initiative that prepares qualified young men of color for full-time employment in the tech industry, I look forward to assisting in their efforts to provide mentorship, industry exposure, and intensive training in computer science.
The new year is fast approaching and resolving to make a difference in the world of programming has never been easier. Today hack.summit(), the world’s largest programming conference, announced hack.pledge(), a movement for programmers worldwide to assemble and mentor each other for one hour in 2015.