Facebook's TechPrep hopes to boost diversity in technology by empowering underrepresented minority students and their parents to get involved in computer science.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced it was launching a new initiative called TechPrep. It's an effort to boost diversity in Silicon Valley by providing underrepresented students and their parents the resources to get a head start on a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The initiative is a partnership between the social media giant and consulting firm McKinsey and Company. TechPrep, the online hub, will offer educational resources for kids from backgrounds that are underrepresented in Silicon Valley, including Blacks, Latinos, and girls.

"TechPrep brings together hundreds of resources, curated based on who you are and what you need, such as age range, skill level and what kind of resource you are looking for," wrote Facebook's global director of diversity Maxine Williams in the company's announcement. "The website is designed for both English and Spanish speakers."

The hub includes games, books, reference manuals and tutorials for students of all ages interested in programming. It also involves community events, with a focus on providing parents and guardians the tools and information they need to foster their kids' interest in computer science and technology.

Facebook emphasized that McKinsey's research on STEM education and minorities shaped the way they built TechPrep, and exposed them to the importance of helping parents help their children find a path to a career in technology. Facebook posted some of the results of McKinsey's research:

  • "There was great self-confidence about their own potential among Black and Hispanic learners despite their underrepresentation in the industry. Fifty percent of Blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics say they would be good at working with computers, compared to 35 percent of Whites and 35 percent of Asians."
  • "However, 77 percent of parents say they do not know how to help their child pursue computer science. This percentage increases to approximately 83 percent for lower income and non-college graduate parents or guardians. Yet being encouraged to pursue computer science by a parent or guardian is a primary motivator for women, Blacks and Hispanics.
  • "Lower awareness of computer science in Blacks and Hispanics is driven by less access to both people in CS and CS programs, and is a major driver of Black and Hispanic drop-off when pursuing programming as a career path."
  • "Men are five times more likely than women to say that they 'know a lot about computer programming.'"

The results mirror a previous survey, in which a large sample of urban, low-income Black and Latino students expressed intense interest in programming, computer technician, and computer design careers. Those three careers made the top 10 the students were most interested in. But the same survey found a majority of those teens and parents were hampered by a lack of knowledge, or misconceptions, about how to get started.

Meanwhile, Facebook for its part is still lacking a representative level of Latinos and Blacks in its own company, reporting this year only 2 percent of its workforce was Black and 3 percent Latino, while 55 percent of the company's staff were white.

Compared to the 4.5 percent of Black college graduates with a computer science degree and the 6.5 percent of Latinos with the same, Facebook looks to be behind the curve.

"We're trying to get more than the 4.5 percent," said Williams to TechCrunch, speaking on the company's own diversity problem and the limited "pipeline" of minorities with STEM degrees to pull from.

"Because when you start at 4.5 percent, everybody who ever got a computer science degree would have to agree to come to Facebook for our number to be at 4.5 percent. And that's just not going to happen realistically.

"We are doing short, medium and long term initiatives," Williams said. "We are doing a number of different things, but you can't do those things and succeed if you don't also get a more robust pipeline coming in. So it takes everything together."