By Stephanie Humphrey
While the numbers are slowly improving, the statistics don’t lie: the percentage of Black folks working in the tech industry is still in the single digits – hovering around 5%, and the percentage that get startup funding is less than two percent. But there are organizations out there that are working to raise those stats and Coded by Kids is doing a phenomenal job with three programs that can help our community.
Coded by Kids is a 501c3 tech education nonprofit organization founded by Sylvester Mobley in 2014 whose mission is to “prepare underrepresented young people to succeed as tech and innovation leaders through project-based learning and mentorship.” And the first program, CBK Classroom, does just that. CBK Classroom “makes web development fun for students, using project-based learning to help them build skills and prepare for career opportunities.” There are three levels of the program for beginners, intermediate learners, and an advanced-skills course as well. The organization is currently registering students for CBK Explore, the introductory course, which will be held Mondays and Wednesdays from March 7th-May 25th and is open for young people ages 13-18 years old. The program is free, but spots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If you have a student in your home that already knows how to code, the 5th annual Ctrl+Shift coding competition is currently taking applications. This is a competition for high school students that want to take their website development skills to the next level and learn from professionals in the field. Students can compete as individuals or in teams of up to three people. You will have to attend at least three of the six mentoring sessions that are a part of the competition to qualify as a finalist. Prizes for the competition start at $1000 for honorable mention, all the way up to $7500 for first place. Registration closes on March 18, 2022, so make sure the young person in your home does not miss this awesome opportunity!
And finally, if you or someone you know has a startup idea, you can enter the CBK Ventures Pitch Competition for a chance to win up to $25,000 for your business. You can compete as an Emerging Founder, which is defined as an individual that has a business idea, or as a Founder, which is defined as an individual who already has a fully developed business concept. This is particularly helpful for our community, as we don’t normally get investment unless we have fully formed business plans with proof of concept and generated revenue in hand. It can be near impossible to get funding for an idea alone, so this is a fantastic opportunity for someone who thinks they have the concept for the next big thing. The deadline for the pitch competition is approaching fast though, and you will need to submit your application materials before midnight on February 27, 2022.
Unfortunately for whatever reason, a lot of the time our community gets left out of opportunities like these. That is why it is so important to take advantage of them when they present themselves. Becoming a part of the technology economy is a proven way improve your earning potential by gaining skills that will be valuable to you over your entire lifetime. You can find information on all these programs at www.codedbykids.com.
Stephanie Humphrey is a former engineer turned Tech-Life Expert and author. She is a contributor to ‘Good Morning America’ and Fox 29’s ‘Good Day Philadelphia’, and the co-host of ‘The Tech Jawn’ podcast. You can find Stephanie all around the web @TechLifeSteph and get her book “Don’t Let Your Digital Footprint Kick You in the Butt!” on Amazon.