The Story So Far
In October, blackgirl.tech will be turning five, and it’s been an interesting five years. I started blackgirl.tech before I got my first job in the industry, just after I had completed my coding bootcamp and couldn’t get a job. At the time the industry was talking (& bragging) so much about diversity but I didn’t see anybody that looked like me, so I was confused about what they meant by “diversity”.
Originally blackgirl.tech was going to be this organisation that created tech content and coding tutorials, and trained black women to code then hired them to work on client projects, I wanted to create jobs since I had found it so hard to find a job. I couldn’t actually get a job in London when I started out, I ended up working for a small but very profitable company in Havant, 2 hours away from home, who ended up under-paying me. Starting small, I decided that workshops were the best way to introduce black women, girls and non-binary people to coding. That first year running blackgirl.tech was hard, we had 1 event where 1 person turned up even though the waitlist had over 60 names.
We had our first successful event the following year. Having got my third job in London, year three started with a bang. For the first time I had a dedicated team (shoutout Dan, Bex, Derek) and we ran at least 1 workshop a month, sometimes 2, on different coding languages. We got funding from 38 Degrees and were able to hire a screen at RichMix to host a private viewing of Hidden Figures. The next year, we hosted a screening of Black Panther, 38 Degrees gave us more money and we were also able to launch our scholarship program.
Over the last five years, over 300 black women, girls & non-binary people have attended events, applied for our scholarship and been given mentoring. I am confident we’ve made an impact with both tech companies and the people of blackgirl.tech. I’m proud of what we’ve done and this last year will end with one final hoorah (more on that later).
Last year we received a large grant from solitr.com and with it we’ll be funding our last year (as well as some backdated work), paying taxes and we hope to be able to donate the rest of the money to some other organisations we think are doing amazing work.
blackgirl.tech is a child that was raised by a small village, I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of the stuff I was able to do without the help, money, effort from some key individuals and organisations.
- Rebecca Francis: my right-hand woman who has worn many hats over the years. From event organiser to volunteer co-ordinator & everything in between.
- Alicia Collymore: my first partner.
- Daniel Liburd, Derek Baker & Chima Nwosu: my first team who helped run workshops, plan events & initiatives, create tutorials & design parts of the website.
- Yvonne Maxwell & Merri Williams: my advisors who helped lead the direction of blackgirl.tech and introduced me to the wider tech community.
- David Babbs & 38 Degrees: the first organisation to give us money and my co-workers who gave time to help blackgirl.tech in whatever ways they could. David also gave great advice, especially related to the non-profit side of things.
- Makis, Katerina, Amelia & 8th Light: Makis & Katerina were consistent volunteers for blackgirl.tech and 8th Light have bailed us out of tricky, last-minute crisis on more than one occasion. 8th Light also sponsored 2 black women from our community to spend 3 months learning to code in their London offices.
- Toyin Makinde, Rachel Nakaye & Nini Olorunoje: the current team who will see the organisation out.
- Luke Morton & Made Tech: Made offered mentors to some of our dedicated members & is guiding them on their coding journey.
- Jo Liss & Solitr: our biggest donor to date
- All our donors
- blackgirl.tech volunteers
- Maker’s Academy, Twitter, Adaptive Labs a.k.a Idean, Rolli & Moo
It’s likely I’m unintentionally missing some people out, however, if you have helped blackgirl.tech in any way, be it a conversation in a coffee shop or supporting our events, thank you! We couldn’t have had the impact we did without you & there are many women who know that technology is for them.