June 28, 2016; CNET and Fast Company
The shortest distance between two points is a direct line. That line gets even shorter when you work in the same building, passing each other every day. That is exactly what the nonprofit Black Girls CODE and Google hope will happen as they begin to share the same office building in NYC.
What makes this particular partnership so special is the potential to facilitate positive outcomes for the benefit of both partners. Black Girls CODE (BGC) has a vision 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.” BGC will now have access to Google’s resources and community. For its part, Google will interact on a daily basis with young women of color who are interested in computers and tech. The space is in Google’s new office building in Manhattan. The 3000-square-foot space allocated to BGC, valued at $2.8 million, is a big gift to BGC from Google.
As Kimberly Bryant, BGC’s founder and CEO, said to Fast Company, ,Google “can also learn from us seeing the work that we’re doing right under their roof, so to speak, in engaging these younger communities of color.” This “deep access” increases the possibility for internships and mentorship relationships for the girls in the programs. Bryant, an electrical engineer college student in the ’80s, knows from personal experience how challenging it can be when so few of your classmates look like you.
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Founded in 2011, BGC is on a mission to train one million young women of color by 2040. Currently, it serves 1,000 girls a year in New York City, and hopes to double or triple that number due to its relationship with Google. According to its website, there are also chapters in Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, DC, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, and Raleigh-Durham.
“If you look specifically at students of color, and even more specifically at girls from African-American, Latina and Native American communities, it’s important to reach them before they get to high school,” said Bryant. Girls’ interest in computers and technology drops sharply between 9th and 12th grades.
Since releasing employment statistics in 2014 showing that African Americans were only 2% of all staff, Google has invested in several programs. It now recruits from a wider pool of colleges, and partners with nonprofits like Black Girls CODE. (Other Silicon Valley initiatives addressing diversity have been covered by NPQ, for instance.
This partnership becomes another way for Google to create a pipeline for future hires and for the girls taking classes with BGC to gain the experience they need to access the kinds of jobs Google offers. Sharing the same office building allows Google employees and BGC participants to learn from each other every day.—Jeanne Allen