Funding and Building the Economy of the Future

Nov 16, 2017 · 3 min read

By Alex Trabulsi, Senior Director of Development, Code2040

2040 is the beginning of the decade when people of color will be the majority in the US. Given this significant demographic shift, for the economy to be strong and productive, it needs to be equitable and inclusive.

At Code2040, we are working every day to build systems that ensure Black and Latinx communities achieve full representation in tech, which powers our economy and influences our society. But we know if we are to see this new paradigm take hold, we can’t wait until 2040. There are certain goals we need to achieve by 2020 in order to start breaking down barriers and create the critical mass needed to drive this forward. And today, it is an honor to announce that we have received $3 million from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to accomplish our ambitious goals, and are celebrating this support in New York City as part of their reflection on the past, present, and future of the internet.

Along with their support, this brings us to a total of $5.6 million in funding raised from the Sara & Evan Williams Foundation, an anonymous donor, and a host of individuals and companies spanning the tech and finance industries. The funding will be used to execute on three main focuses for the coming year:

  • Scale student programs: You may have noticed, this has already begun. In June, we announced we’ll be expanding our flagship Fellows Program to New York in 2018. In 2017, we had 131 Fellows and 50 students participating in Tech Trek. By 2020, we will have 1,000 students matriculating through our programs each year. Commitment to the community is one of the core tenants we look for when selecting Fellows, and you can already see that “pay it forward” mentality coming to fruition. Take Chazz Simms, who was one of five Fellows to participate in that inaugural class of 2012. Three years ago, Chazz launched his own startup, Wise Systems, and he has since hired another former Fellow. The young people we’re privileged enough to work with through these programs aren’t operating in silos; together, they make up professional networks, support systems, co-founders that are rewriting the system from the inside out.
  • Transform company culture: In the nearly six years we’ve been doing this work, we’ve partnered with nearly 100 companies, representing some of the most influential and successful in the industry: Box, Salesforce, and Slack in Silicon Valley, and now Spotify, SquareSpace, and more in New York City. As all companies — regardless of size and industry — increasingly rely on technology and technologists to help them accomplish their goals, their ability to build an inclusive culture will be an even greater competitive advantage to attract and retain the best talent. We know this requires an industry-wide cultural shift, and we’ve learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t in the years we’ve been doing this. 2018 is a critical year as we move beyond traditional tech companies, expand to new markets and increase the number of students, alumni, and company partners. Our partners command outsized influence in our economy, and we’re working together to lay the foundation for this type of transformation to take hold nationwide.
  • Grow and mobilize our community: The Code2040 community of Black and Latinx technologists and their allies is at the heart of this work. Today we have a community of 5,000 people. Through high-impact direct service programs, robust in-person and online community engagement, and dynamic storytelling and knowledge sharing, by 2020, we will grow that community to 40,000. These are Black and Latinx change-agents starting companies, hiring Fellows, referring their peers into jobs that they might not otherwise have access to. They’re allies advocating for D&I trainings within their organizations, educating their colleagues, pushing for new hiring practices, and asking the tough questions. They’re policymakers and industry leaders stepping out loud and clear to share that the status quo isn’t working anymore. These are the people who are leading the movement.

So with that, a huge thank you to our donors: The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Sara & Evan Williams Foundation, our anonymous donor, and other leaders in this space.

Together, we can build a more innovative and inclusive tech industry. The health of our economy and communities depend on it.

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