Published in


Fostering a Safer Community 2022 Update

Dear Techtonica Community,

Two years ago, with Techtonica mostly serving BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color), we committed to taking action to foster a more supportive, anti-racist community. It is more clear than ever that this journey is important and worthwhile. As part of this commitment, over the last year, we continued with the changes made the year before, including holding weekly staff meetings to address any safety concerns quickly, brainstorm new ideas, and make steady progress towards our goals. In the last year, these meetings have led to:

  • Implementing WRAPs — Wellness Recovery Action Plans, a trauma-informed tool
  • Changing “all-hands meetings” to “organization-wide meetings” to avoid ableism
  • Inviting graduates to one org-wide meeting per cohort and mentors to another
  • Feedback training early on in the cohort with regular practice using the feedback formula
  • Personal get-to-know-yous, listening sessions, and exit interviews with participants and staff
  • Group Q&As with staff, board members, mentors, and more graduates
  • Ongoing anti-racist discussions and training like the Anti-racist, trauma-informed care training for white staff members
  • Code of Conduct administration planning and training
  • Surveying sponsors about staff interactions and asking for areas of improvement
  • Refining and implementing biannual performance reviews and team planning
  • More consistent updates via newsletter and social media
  • Creating a calendar of special days and holidays we should recognize
  • A project template to help participants start more quickly
  • Improvements to the mentorship program by a long-time mentor
  • Hiring a former participant to help with the curriculum part-time
  • Conducting effective time management training
  • Encouraging breaks more often and figuring out how to adjust plans accordingly
  • A group game on Friday afternoon to unwind
  • Switching up weekly meditation to also use a list of recorded guided meditations
  • A mindfulness workshop from Alicia Montgomery LCSW
  • Weekly one-on-ones, mock interviews, coding hours, and knowledge checks with staff
  • Daily outlines of the most important info with group reviews
  • Creating example code for the full-stack apps
  • Walking the cohort through the matching process and having a pre-interview day orientation for interviews from sponsor companies
  • Examining what we mean by “professionalism” and being clear about the bias that often comes with the term
  • A focus on supporting potential Black, Latinx, and Indigenous applicants
  • Weekly study groups for potential applicants
  • Giving away some of our extra MacBooks to potential Latinx applicants
  • A program info session for Latinos Who Tech & Techqueria
  • Changing our income eligibility to use the MIT Living Wage Calculator
  • Adding a question about diversity, equity, and inclusion to the application
  • Adding some anti-racism reading to white participants’ pre-work
  • Creating a program to level up accepted participants’ technical proficiency before the start of the program as needed

We’re especially pleased about:

  • The cohort learning to give feedback using the feedback formula (factual observation + impact + questions to understand/pause to listen + request) and using that everywhere
  • Everyone in the first cohort of 2022 making it all the way through
  • Receiving the most applications ever and reaching our applicant demographics goals of at least 30% Black, 30% Latinx, and 10% beyond the gender binary
  • The committed engagement of mentors and cohesiveness of participants and staff
  • The regular involvement of applicants in our pre-application study groups and how that translated to a lot of acceptances
  • Accepted participants leveling up their technical proficiency pre-program
  • The increase of overall weekly survey averages from 3.68 out of 4 to 3.81
  • The increase of program staff review NPS rates so they’re now all in the 90s!

Last week, one participant wrote in the weekly survey, “Techtonica has done a great job at preparing me technically and personally for what’s ahead. I struggled all my life with imposter syndrome and I’m happy to say that I feel mostly alleviated from that. I’m sure there will be a moment it will return, but I know what resources to use to overcome that and how to find a supportive community to keep helping me with my growth.”

Another participant, when asked about her Techtonica experience overall, said, “In one word, life-changing. Amazing, in a good way. It’s been great. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

With our largest cohort starting in July, we want to provide the same quality experience. To that end, we have done significant planning and expanded the hours of our part-time administrative assistant. We will continue to gather feedback, examine the effect our practices have, and iterate as needed. Some of the things we are planning include:

  • Having more staff and cohort get-to-know-yous and one-on-ones pre-program
  • Making a more concrete plan for what to do when a team member is sick
  • Reaching out to smaller communities of color in need to see how we can be helpful
  • Making the website more carbon-friendly
  • Adding more application process details to the website
  • Creating additional example code for the remaining weekly projects and pair programming exercises

We also have an 11-page list of smaller ideas we are working on, and with the creativity of staff, participants, mentors, board members, volunteers, and other community members, we’re sure there will be even more.

Thank you to our wonderfully-supportive Techtonica community — your dedication, feedback, and contributions are incredibly helpful and appreciated.





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



Free tech training and job placement for local women and non-binary adults in need.