Kimberly Bryant was inspired to start Black Girls Code by her daughter’s experiences at a middle school computer science camp. Bryant’s daughter, Kia, was one of only a handful of girls at the camp and the only black girl. When she came home each evening, she told her mother that the instructors focused more intently on the boys. They weren’t mentoring the girls in the class equally. 12-years-old at the time, Kia loved videogames and was interested in learning more about computers, but she felt like she wasn’t being provided the best opportunity to learn.
“That’s when the issues came together personally and professionally,” Bryant said. “I didn’t want [Kia] to be unmotivated and…feel like she couldn’t learn these skills or thrive because of the attention she got in class.”
Driven by the idea to help diversify the tech field, Kimberly Bryant decided to start Black Girls Code. Black Girls Code (BGC) would be a not-for-profit organization that focuses on providing technology education to African-American girls ages 7–17. It would introduce girls from underrepresented communities to computer programming.
Originally launched in 2011, the program is funded primarily by donations, and also companies such as Rackspace and Symantec who have sponsored events.
Its curriculum is a six-week course that allows girls to explore technology concepts, with trained instructors and teaching assistants. The program offers an after school course and a summer enrichment program, which includes a week-long intensive class in robotics and programming.
In 2012, Black Girls Code funded a Summer of Code camp in cities across the country, through an Indiegogo campaign. The organization has also hosted bilingual workshops in partnership with the Latino Startup Alliance.
Byrant has sacrificed the possibility of a hefty salary in the tech field to focus her efforts on this organization. “It’s nowhere near as lucrative as biotech but it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my career,” she said. “It pays me in benefits each and every day.”
Bryant says, although this organization focuses mainly on girls of color, she is a huge advocate for all youth —boys and girls — learning to code.
“It’s inspirational to see my daughter gain self-confidence,” she said. “She talks about being a business owner as opposed to being a game tester like before. I’ve seen her whole vocabulary change.”