Tech Startup of the Week: Black Girls Code Introduces Young Women to Tech
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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Kimberly Bryant‘s daughter, Kai, 12, loved playing video games, so Bryant enrolled her in a computer programming camp at Stanford.

“I was trying to encourage her to create something of her own if she was going to spend so much time on the web.”

At Stanford, Kai flourished. She stayed on campus for a week learning about video game development and programming, but Bryant, an electrical engineer who worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, was still frustrated because she realized that of the 35 students in the program, no more than four were girls and, gender aside, Kai was the only student of color.

Bryant knew that the pipeline to tech careers was faulty when it came to blacks and she wanted to do something to help fill it with more girls. So, in April 2011, she founded Black Girls Code to help give more black girls around the country the same opportunity that Kai got at Stanford.

Black Girls Code is this week’s Tech Startup of the Week. Last year, while still working full time in the biotech industry, Bryant corralled 400 volunteers to help host workshops to 800 girls in nine U.S. cities. (Not to mention, her own daughter, now 14, is a teacher’s assistant for BGC and she’s been a member of her school’s robotics team for two years.) Her goal is to reach 2,000 students in 2013.

Most girls that come to BGC classes have not done programming before, says Bryant but when they leave one of her one-day workshops, weekend seminars, or six-week summer programs, they leave understanding and replicating various aspects of Web-based technology including mobile apps, design graphics, digital filmmaking, and robotics. Last fall they taught a six-week program on Python, a more complex programing language used for mobile app development.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.