This year we partnered with Black Girls Code to increase access to STEM education. Photo courtesy of Black Girls Code.
With a mission to close the global skills gap and help people pursue work they love, General Assembly strives to create opportunities that impact a vast range of communities.
This year, we were proud to voice our support for access to education and inclusive hiring in the media. We spoke out about promoting computer science education through the Computer Science for All Initiative, and released a white paper on skills-based hiring. We partnered with many innovative organizations to make a difference in the tech sector, launching new campaigns and programs to promote equality in startup funding, champion computer science education for kids, help New Yorkers get well-paying data jobs, and much more.
Tom Ogletree, Director of Social Impact at General Assembly, presents our Opportunity Fund program at MIT’s Inclusive Innovation Conference. Photo: Dominick Reuter
General Assembly has an ambitious vision for the future. We’re working toward a world in which we can close the global skills gap, ensuring that everyone — regardless of social or economic barriers — has access to the training they need to pursue a career they love. To achieve this goal, we work closely with employers to understand the workforce they need, and then empower students and employees with these skills.
Meet Jerome Hardaway, an Opportunity Fund recipient and Veteran who worked in marketing and design before enrolling in GA’s Web Design Immersive course in New York City. Now, Jerome is using his web development skills to build his own startup, FRAGO, which helps Veterans transition more smoothly into civilian life.
Students coding for change at IGNITE International Girls Hackathon in Oakland.
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.
Students coding for change at IGNITE International Girls Hackathon at General Assembly in NYC.
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.
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.
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.
I entered my first day as a programming mentor just as timidly as I had when I first started General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive back in June. After finishing the 12-week program, I was confident that I knew a lot about programming, but I was not-so-confident that I could pass on my knowledge to impressionable children.
However, as an Opportunity Fund Fellow with GA, I agreed to volunteer 100+ hours to mentor youth to impart the valuable skills that I learned during WDI, so mentoring was part of the deal, whether I was nervous or not. Luckily, the kids at CoderDojo weren’t nearly as scary as I’d thought, and I picked up mentoring right away.