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Diversity in Tech: Latino Startup Alliance, Black Girls Code Launching STEM Program for Latinas

First Posted: Jun 28, 2014 05:18 PM EDT
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Latino Startup Alliance, La TechLa, Diversity, STEM, Education, Latinas, Technology, Black Girls Code, latinos, tech

Photo : Indiegogo: La TechLa

The lack of diversity in Silicon Valley has been a topic of concern recently, as large tech companies Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn and, most recently, Facebook release not-so-stellar diversity statistics. One thing has become clear from the recent influx of diversity reports from these companies (each of which deserves credit for at least starting the conversation): White men rule Silicon Valley.

In an attempt to jumpstart diversity in tech -- as well as to give 1,000 young girls of color an amazing head start toward their careers -- the Latino Startup Alliance and Black Girls CODE have teamed up to raise money for an initiative called La TechLa.

The program seeks to help chip away at Silicon Valley's distinct lack of women and black and Hispanic minorities by teaching young girls of color about coding and the power of technology.

"There is a lack of representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), but that troubling gap is even more pronounced for young girls of color," Deldelp Medina said in a release from the two nonprofit organizations. "La TechLa seeks to reverse this trend by tapping into Latina girls' love for tech gadgets and showing them -- and their families -- why technology matters to their future and how they too can become part of this movement. By combining the power of our organizations, we are investing in developing and building social and economic stability in our communities."

The educational initiative started with funding from Google's RISE program (Roots in Science and Engineering), which awards support to organizations in the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere that help engage, educate and motivate young people to get into computer science -- especially girls, underrepresented minorities and students facing socioeconomic barriers.

To help support a multicity program rollout, Latino Startup Alliance and Black Girls CODE have an Indiegogo crowdfunding page, with the goal of reaching $5,000 -- before July 4.

That means only five days are left, but 50 people have funded the project, and the goal is very close.

"We need the community [to] step up and support our niñas," the crowdfunding page implores, and with funding options as low as $10, almost everyone can afford to help out.

The bilingual La TechLa program will show Latinas ages 10-17 the power of mobile phones, not just as fun social hubs and gaming platforms, but also as platforms for their ideas through coding and portals to technology careers and entrepreneurship. The program will roll out in at least 10 cities in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico. The Indiegogo funding will help La TechLa reach the last two unfunded cities.

(Photo : Indiegogo: La TechLa)

La TechLa will be operating in these cities (on dates to be announced):

● San Jose, California

● San Francisco, California

● Palo Alto, California

● Los Angeles, California

● Miami, Florida

● Chicago, Illinois

● Kansas City, Missouri

● New York, New York

● San Juan, Puerto Rico

● Guadalajara, Mexico

● Austin, Texas

● Houston, Texas

● Dallas, Texas

● San Antonio, Texas

Black Girls CODE offers technology education to communities of color through workshops, hackathons and after-school programs. BGC introduces computer programming and technology to girls from underrepresented communities in technology areas, such as web design, robotics, gaming and mobile app development.

Founded in 2011 by first generation Mexican-American entrepreneur brothers Jesse and Ed Martinez as a support group for Latino tech entrepreneurs, and now a nationwide organization with headquarters in San Francisco and Miami, Latino Startup Alliance fosters an ecosystem of support for Latino tech entrepreneurs and future innovators by providing a community of peers, resources, mentors and investors. Read other Latino Startup Alliance programs and news here.

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