A New Chapter
Thinking back to 2013, the economic and equity writing on the wall was already clear: technology is the engine of job growth and innovation today, yet the conversation about increasing diversity and access consistently overlooked Black youth.
There was a crop of new tech education programs focused on girls and other demographics, but, at the time, only one ‘learn-to-code’ organization focused on Black boys, despite the severe challenges they face in their path to achieving the so-called American dream.
That recognition inspired me to start All Star Code, an organization I’ve led and supported with passion and clarity for the past nine years.
With All Star Code, I envisioned an organization focused on Black boys that would provide the skills, network, and know-how to thrive in tech. Our bold support for Black male youth garnered national press, and fundamentally expanded dialogue and corporate budgets
Why not girls? Everyone asked. I had an answer. Today, a conversation about diversity in computer science without mentioning the under-representation of young men of color is rare. Before All Star Code, black boys were ignored in tech. We played a big role in ending that.
I am so proud that, as of 2021, All Star Code has graduated over 1,336 young men of color from its signature summer program with 95% of graduates attending two or four-year colleges, ranging from Harvard and Stanford to Howard and Hunter College, with the majority studying computer science or a related STEM field.
All Star Code students are now excelling in their careers. We not only see graduates working in engineering at the world’s most elite tech companies, but also young men winning awards, placing at Hackathons, securing acceptance into elite startup accelerators, getting access to venture capital, and creating jobs and opportunities of their own at companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
In addition, over the past nine years we recruited a talented staff. In many cases we hired individuals and gave them stretch opportunities where they succeeded. Many are still at the organization today. Other former team members leveraged All Star Code’s proximity to tech to transition into the for-profit sector, providing yet another boost to diversity in tech.
Perhaps most importantly of all, we built an honest, mission-driven, and humane culture.
However, as we all know, a decade is a long time. And while there is still significant work to do to ensure that the tech industry achieves its true diversity and equal opportunity potential for Black employees and job-seekers, there is other equally important and adjacent work to be done as well.
To that end, it is with bittersweet feelings that I write to tell you that I am departing All Star Code’s Board of Directors and all leadership responsibilities to focus on other mission-driven opportunities across the private sector and philanthropy.
As I embark on this new journey my heart could not be more full of gratitude for this community and the experiences we’ve shared these last nine years.
I want everyone near and far that I ever spoke with who gave me an insight, suggestion, or introduction that made its way into All Star Code a huge thank you. Know that I remember our conversations and am full of gratitude and appreciation. I particularly want to thank all the amazing social entrepreneurs that I was lucky to meet and befriend. You inspire me. Never before had I received so much help, so much trust, so much love from human beings in this journey.
I am so proud of the All Star Code team and wish everyone, past and present, who’s been a part of the All Star Code community the best of luck and the fullest success. In particular I want to thank our teachers. I am so proud of you for, not too many years out of high school yourselves, diving in and learning our unique approach.
To my students, my boys. I love you. I admire you and I’m grateful to you. I mentor some of you. Although I am no longer formally involved, I will maintain my policy of always accepting connection requests on LinkedIn if they list All Star Code in their profile. Stay connected with me if my network can help open doors for you. You always have my support.
In fact, consider me your work Auntie. Tag me. DM me. And some day I want to get you all in a stadium and have you build me something MAJOR. Keep helping each other and keep daring to be great.
I’m writing this piece midway through a flight to Los Angeles. My family and I are spending the year here to soak in the sun and explore some new creative projects and collaborations. When we first made plans for this cross-country move, it occurred to me that I’ve lived in New York City my entire life. As we all know, change is healthy — necessary, even. Things end so new things can begin.
But, while I may be in a new city, in a new state, on a different coast, raising a family of my own, All Star Code was my first baby, a home-away-from-home I cherished. I’m excited to see where the future takes it.