National Problems Require a National Approach: Why We’re Bringing Our Programs to NYC
by Laura Weidman Powers, Co-Founder and CEO, Code2040
When Tristan Walker and I created Code2040 in 2012, it was with the understanding that America’s economy was changing rapidly and would require an intervention if it was to continue on a successful trajectory. For context, 2040 is the start of the decade when the US will become majority people of color. Tech is an increasingly important part of every business (as well as our daily lives), and the industry has a voracious need for talent.
Because of those two factors, tech jobs and companies are providing an economic opportunity that has the potential to close the racial wealth gap if the industry includes people of color. A lot of work needs to be done before that vision will be realized, and we must move quickly before the current window of opportunity closes.
Today, we’re excited to announce a major development in our goal to connect Black and Latinx technologists with the network, resources, and support to succeed in the innovation economy — we will be expanding our flagship Fellows Program to New York City for the first time in 2018! If your company might be interested in partnering with us to host Code2040 Fellows in 2018, you can reach out to us here. And if you’re interested in applying for the 2018 Fellows Program in New York, you can do so here.
This aligns with our long-term vision to close the racial wealth gap and build a more inclusive economy in America in a few ways.
For starters, racial inequality in America is not a regional problem — it’s a national one. That means we need a national strategy, with boots on the ground in the different cities across the country driving the innovation economy. We also realized tech is enabling businesses across sectors. By expanding to New York, we’re investing in our understanding of how tech ecosystems are developing in other places outside of Silicon Valley.
Not only is New York home to a booming tech scene, it is also the center of our financial services and media industries, both of which are increasingly technology-centric. This is highlighted by the company partners we’ve confirmed so far to work with in New York in 2018: Goldman Sachs, Jane Street, Squarespace, Spotify, and The New York Times. As every company (regardless of industry) becomes a tech company, it is critical for diversity and inclusion to be a central part of this transition. By the year 2020, there will be a projected 1.4 billion tech jobs across America, 70 percent of which are projected to go unfilled. There is a lot riding on the ability of American companies to diversify their tech workforces now.
We launched the Fellows Program in 2012, with a class of just five Fellows and five company partners, supporting both to ensure the relationships are productive and successful. The 2017 Fellows was comprised of over 130 Fellows in the Bay Area and Portland, working at companies like Airbnb, Atlassian, Intel, Salesforce and Slack. Many of our former Fellows now work full-time at the companies they interned at during their Fellowships, mentoring and creating other channels to support their community members to join them and thrive. These are not just students who completed an internship — they are leaders helping their companies and communities navigate and dismantle systemic barriers.
Six years of developing the Fellows Program have taught us a tremendous amount about building inclusive companies.
We’ve seen first hand how everything from the way a job description is written and the way applicants are evaluated, to the mentorship employees receive and the kinds of projects they are given can have massive impact on an organization’s diversity and inclusiveness. We now have the opportunity to expand our work and learn what’s required in new geographies. We realize each city is different and will require a unique set of tools, and we’re excited to work with our NYC company partners and Fellows to unlock the lessons this opportunity provides.