KnightBlog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Media Innovation
Dec 09, 2015

How Knight support will help CODE2040 increase diversity in the tech industry

Posted by Nadia Gathers

Nadia Gathers is the development and communications assistant at CODE2040. Today Knight Foundation is announcing $1.2 million in new support for CODE2040, which was a winner of the Knight News Challenge on strengthening the Internet and has received other support from Knight.

Above: From left to right: Guilherme Carneiro, Rodrigo Manubens, and Anthony Williams work on their project during CODE2040's Hack4Diversity in July.  Photo credit: Nadia Gathers. 

Over the last four years, CODE2040 has helped thousands of black and Latino students connect with opportunities in tech through innovative programs such as our Fellows Program and Technical Applicant Prep. With the support of Knight Foundation, CODE2040 has rapidly grown from our pilot year of five fellows in 2012 to a record-breaking class of 80 students at more than 40 industry-leading companies. Knight Foundation’s new support will enable us to reach more students and change even more lives in the next two years.

One such student, Anthony Williams, attended a Technical Applicant Prep retreat in Oakland, Calif., on May 29-31, and was so moved by the experience that he shared his story, “Escaping Rock Bottom,” on Medium:

“With the amazing weekend CODE2040 put on, allowing us to network, practice behavioral and technical interviews, meet with professionals in the industry, and learn about branding and creating our image, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I felt whole again. They didn’t just build a better professional; they built a better me. I was a completely new person by the end of the retreat. CODE2040 cultivated a better human being within me. I became more confident in my technical abilities as well as with who I am as a person. I was the type of person who could describe every detail of your shoes by the end of a conversation because I was too afraid to make eye contact. I would’ve never been able to openly share my thoughts and experiences in front of a crowd, I wouldn’t have been able to walk up to a group of staff members, ask to sit down and have a fun and genuine conversation.

“I found that I valued myself more than ever, I found worth, I found purpose, I found me. I value my background, culture, friends, family and all those who I have ever crossed paths throughout my life because they have made me the driven person I am today.”

Anthony isn’t the only student we’ve gotten this feedback from. Last summer, 35 fellows at more than 20 Bay Area companies told stories just like this one in their year-end feedback. All in all, 94 percent of fellows reported feeling stronger in their technical skills by the end of their fellowship. Just as important, every student reported feeling more comfortable as a minority in tech. These results are powerful reminders that we’re having tangible effects on how students view themselves and their futures within the tech industry.

We’re very fortunate to hear many stories like Anthony’s, and the support from Knight Foundation will enable CODE2040 to more than double the size our programs and create more life-changing experiences for students. Together, we can change the face of the tech industry and we are proud to have Knight as a partner to achieve this goal.

Learn more about CODE2040 at code2040.org.

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