Targeting African American parents will boost technology interest and achievement for children

If less than 2% of Silicon Valley tech employees are Black and if less than 1% of startups owned by black founders are funded and if the future of problem solving in nearly all fields of study will incorporate some measure of technology and if a growing number of jobs in the future will require some technical knowledge and if the solutions to many of the problems in black communities will involve technology; shouldn’t there be a full-court press approach to ensuring at least proportional participation of African Americans in technology?

Today there are lots of well-known and smart industry professionals, many of them African American, who are engaged in designing programs to attract more people of color into technology. I’m not going to spend much time highlighting these programs since the media does a fairly decent job of identifying these individuals and promoting their programs.

Not much attention has been paid to African American parents however. Parents want the best for their children and many just need to be armed with the relevant information to help them to make early decisions that could positively impact their children’s future participation and success in technology.

We must free up time for our children to be involved in activities that will teach them logic and problem solving in a fun and exciting way. Let us cut back on the video games and television programming that all kids love and allow them more time to focus on applications like MIT Scratch programming. Let’s encourage them to build with Legos and enroll them in a Lego league at their school if you have the option. Let’s challenge them to learn to build simple mobile apps with App Inventor, a free online program, or encourage them to spend an hour a day on code.org learning html, css, javascript, python or any other programming language. Their programs are free.

Additionally, we must not allow our children to fall behind in Math and Science. Online programs like khanacademy.com help with Math concepts; there are many others. Studyisland.com provides tutoring or prep programs for K-12 students and comes at a price but their academic programs are excellent.

Let us enroll students who fall behind in Math in tutorial programs, while we push for our A students to be enrolled in accelerated Math classes. Those who show unusual ability in Math should be enrolled in a Math circle, Math Olympiad or any number of Math programs that challenge them and prepare them for advanced problem solving.

The goal of course is to help large numbers of black kids to prepare to one day become successful tech entrepreneurs, and to be sure a successful career in any of the many fields of technology will require focus, drive, commitment and an early start in preparing for success. Engagement is where we start however, so wherever they are, let’s get them engaged today!