Inspiring the Next Generation of Tech Workers

Written by elizabeth dobrska , Executive Director, TUGG.

Today is Tech Gives Back and it’s my favorite tech event of the year. This year is a extra special as we’re trying something new. It’s no secret that the tech industry has some major issues around diversity and pipeline and this October 19th, TUGG is proud to be piloting a new program as a part of our annual Tech Gives Back day of service aimed to inspire the next generation of techies from across Boston’s most under-resourced neighborhoods.

The Beginning

The 7th annual Tech Gives Back, organized by TUGG (Technology Underwriting Greater Good) and SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) is the largest day of service in the tech industry. The day is about so much more than fun afternoon out with the team. Tech Gives Back is about highlighting the impact our industry can have in a single day while empowering tech companies large and small to make a difference in the community. TUGG and SVB are dedicated to providing tech companies large and small with meaningful opportunities that are aligned with the ethos of the entire tech ecosystem: experimenting, education, innovation, impact, and community.

Earlier this year, The Boston Foundation asked us if we’d be interested in scaling Salsify’s outgoing community engagement program where they host a mini-shark tank with middle-schoolers from the Boston Public Schools. Our immediate response was YES, count us in! We knew this was a fit for our community and would make a meaningful addition to the Tech Gives Back roster. And so, the Tech Gives Back Guppy Tank Pilot Program was born.

Like Shark Tank, but with Little Fish

At its core, Guppy Tank is a mini-hackathon broken out into three sections: sales/marketing, product, and design/engineering. The day concludes with a shark-tank style pitch competition.

Salsify developed this model for their own company when looking to boldly address tech’s diversity problem. TUGG is proud to be scaling Guppy Tank to 10 companies around Boston.

Tomorrow, teams of sixth-graders will delve deep into their own ideas around healthy living and using the design thinking process. With a little help from some awesome professional techies, the students will prototype their own apps. This condensed STEM program will give these students a look into what it’s like to work in tech and bring their own ideas to life.

Community Leaders

With Salsify leading the way, and generously sharing their Guppy Tank blueprint with us, it wasn’t hard to generate interest among other tech companies. We’re thrilled with the 10 companies who signed on to lead by example: Buildium, Hubspot, InsightSquared, Mendix, Rapid7, Salsify, Threat Stack, Toast, Wayfair, WeWork.

Each organization has committed to hosting an on-site Guppy Tank with about 20 students from a local Boston Public School. We’ve been continuously impressed with how committed our participating tech companies are to making this an unforgettable and inspiring day for the students.

It Takes A Village

We’re so grateful to have some stellar partners who are helping to make this happen. When you have 250 kids going to 10 tech companies, you need more than a little help from your friends. Our Guppy Tank Pilot Program is made possible in part by generous support from The Boston Foundation and Silicon Valley Bank. It is powered by Building Impact, who has worked tirelessly with the folks at Boston Public Schools to ensure that the participating students are not only prepared for the day, but that Guppy Tank will contribute seamlessly into their STEM curriculum goals.

Boston Public Schools carefully selected the participating schools to ensure that students across the board were getting a chance to be a part of this and ensuring that this is truly an inclusive program — in fact most of the schools participating are “inclusion schools” meaning that students with special needs will also partake in Guppy Tank.

The Future Is Bright

Throughout the day, our team will be hopping from one Tech Gives Back Guppy Tank to the other, wishing we could clone ourselves and be at all 10 locations at once.

While we can’t know where these kids will want to work when they grow up, our hope is that they’ll be inspired by Guppy Tank. It is crucial that Boston’s most under-resourced and under-represented youth — the youth in our very own backyard — have the opportunity to become the next generation of Boston’s tech industry… After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.