Image for post
Image for post
ngGirls Workshop at ngAtlanta 2018

ngAtlanta Foundation, paving the road of access to tech

Sep 5, 2018 · 7 min read

The first year of ngAtlanta was a great success. It was thrilling to see over 400 of our friends coming together as a community, in the thriving tech hub of Atlanta. We made some amazing memories and have learned so much. The feedback we received about our first annual event has been heartwarming. We are very thankful to have met all of you and are looking forward to meeting you again soon. Throughout the last several months though there have been two questions plaguing us; how can we do more and how can we better embody “You Can Sit With Us”?

Image for post
Image for post
Bonnie and Sam presenting at the 2018 edition of ngAtlanta

When we created the ngAtlanta conference, our first explicit goal was to have at least 50% of our speakers be women in tech. We shared this goal publicly in our Origin Story. Additionally we had a second goal to create an inclusive environment for our attendees, something we felt would also foster diversity.

Rarely do you see tech organizers that put in the effort to create a truly inclusive space for the diversity we want to see in our industry, and ngAtlanta does just that. This organization goes beyond the PR stunts of claiming to be diversity inclusive, and actually puts in the effort to align with others in the community that are making changes for how we see our industry growing. It’s a creative organization that thinks beyond just the tech, and seeks to inspire attendees with the rest of what makes our work important: culture, perspective, and community. Sarah Lodato

Two actions towards this goal that we took in 2018 were to provide scholarships to our conference to underrepresented individuals in tech and to run a free, full day ngGirls workshop.

It was through the amazing support of our 2018 sponsors that we were able to give out over 120 scholarships! Thank you to: Google, GitHub, OpenForge (Formally Webjunto), The Weather Company, NodeSource, ngrx, Equimedia Limited, Auth0, nStudio and SalesLoft.

Our ngGirls workshop helped provide an introduction to Angular for 56 women in technology. This was only possible through the wonderful support of the Microsoft Cloud Advocates team, and our dedicated community of mentors who took a day out of their busy calendars to give back.

ngAtlanta is helping to further people’s ambitions through giving out tickets to organizations like Moms Can Code. It was an amazing opportunity to not only be able to go to the entire conference but to also attend the ngGirls free full day workshop. I had wonderful help and mentors who truly inspired me and gave me some great advice. I knew it was going to be an eye-opening experience but had no idea how much I would learn. I felt comfortable and everyone was very inclusive. It was so encouraging to hear all the talks by such a diverse group of speakers and to know that I can do it too. I hope one day to make a difference in someone’s life the way everyone at ngAtlanta made for me. — Deborah Joy Castiglioni

Room For Growth

One realization we had around our scholarships was that some of the people who signed up for the free workshop or received a free ticket, did not attend. We asked ourselves, “what went wrong?” It turns out that there were two main problems regarding attendance for scholarship recipients. One problem we did not originally account for was travel to outside the perimeter of Atlanta and lodging during the conference. We quickly realized that financial resources and physical access to the conference were both key factors in their lack of attendance. The other problem was one of timing, several of the individuals who wanted to attend our free workshop were not able to participate because it was on a work day, Wednesday.

We decided to make a few changes in order to address these issues. The first thing we decided to do was to restructure our scholarship program. In 2018 our scholarships provided 100% free access to the conference. In 2019 our scholarship program will also cover one night in The Hotel at Avalon which is our conference venue, and transportation to & from the event.

To help improve the attendance of the ngGirls workshop we felt it was best to reach out to both the people who could make it, and those who could not. The goal was to find out if moving the workshop to a different day of the week, Saturday, would help with attendance. After a lot of discussion we came to a consensus that moving the ngGirls workshop to be on a Saturday would make it more accessible for 2019.

Creating Our Foundation

Sometimes a call to action comes when you are not expecting it. One specific time for us was due to the advice we received from Que Frasier of Nonprofit Genius. After her talk at WeRISE Tech Conf we had the opportunity to speak with her directly. When we shared our vision for how we wanted to grow the scholarship program and expand our workshops for women in tech, she let us know that those activities were a great foundation for a philanthropic effort. Que probed us as to why we had not yet set up a nonprofit for the work we were doing. It was through her coaching and consulting that we actually created the nonprofit; ngAtlanta Foundation was founded and we began expanding our vision.

Part of the creation process for the nonprofit was actually to establish our vision statement for 2019.

“We believe in a diverse and inclusive software industry and feel that the way we can help to affect change is to ‘pave the road’ for underrepresented individuals to access the industry. We achieve this through training programs, technical conferences, internships and partnering with other nonprofits that directly serve these individuals.” — ngAtlanta Foundation Mission Statement

After establishing our vision, we had to take some time to quantify what that actually meant and how much it would cost to achieve it. We set out to achieve 5 goals for 2019.

Who gets the scholarships?

The Next IT Girl: A collaborative network of women of color in tech with a passion for closing the gender and racial gap in technology. The Next IT Girl is helping to distribute a portion of our scholarships to their network of women of color in technology.

Latinos in Tech (LiT ATL): A local organization focused on developing, promoting, fostering, strengthening, and improving the Latino/a tech community in Atlanta. LiT ATL is helping to distribute a portion of our scholarships to Latinos in Tech.

Moms Can Code: A global community of moms learning to code and training program to teach moms how to code online and in their local communities. Moms Can Code is helping to distribute a portion of our scholarships to moms in tech.

Project Alloy: A nonprofit with a strong commitment to give directly to people for whom they wish to open the doors of opportunity. Project Alloy is helping to distribute a portion of our scholarships to underrepresented individuals in their network.

This Dot Labs: A global organization focused on growing the JavaScript community, providing mentorship, training and consulting to organizations around the world. This Dot has a strong passion for advocating for underrepresented individuals in tech and will be helping to distribute a portion of our scholarships to underrepresented individuals in their network.

Wilberforce University: Founded in 1856 Wilberforce University is the first Historically Black University and is the first college owned and operated by African Americans. Wilberforce will be helping to distribute a portion of our scholarships to their current computer science students.

ngAtlanta Foundation also has a signup form for underrepresented individuals who would like to apply for the scholarship. The form can be found here.

If your organization would like to help in the distribution of scholarships please fill out our Foundation Interest form.

You Can Help Pave the Road!

Between the 200 full scholarships to ngAtlanta we want to provide and the 75 seats to the ngGirls workshop we need to raise just under $300,000 by January 1st, 2019.

Through the ngAtlanta Foundation which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit we’ve begun raising the funds needed to achieve our 2019 goals. Our primary method for rising funds is via a campaign on DonorBox called “The Road to Access”. We hope that you consider donating and sharing the link. A considerable amount of employers match donations. Please make sure to check if your employer is in the list on DonorBox.

Employers we need your help too

We know that Diversity and Inclusion is just as important to you as it is to us. ngAtlanta Foundation provides an opportunity to turn mission statements and goals into something actionable. We encourage you to take a look at how your organization can be a greater part of helping pave this road to access. Let’s work together to #FixTheRatio.

If you or your organization would be interested in directly contributing, hosting a fundraising event, providing internships, creating developer boot camp scholarships or providing mentorship please fill out our interest form and we will contact you.

Special Thanks

Enormous thanks to nStudio for kicking us off as our first corporate sponsor and all the individuals who have contributed already via our Donorbox campaign.

Image for post
Image for post
Donorbox donation link

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store