LDC: any advice for other women of color looking to create such beneficial alliances for philanthropic ideas they might have, by the way?
KB: My advice would be to engage others in your dream. Networks and relationships are critically important to you in every endeavor. So make a sincere effort to network and tell others about your dreams and goals. Enlist them as collaborators to help you achieve your goals and help them to meet their objectives as well. But always strive to give more than you receive. It will benefit you in both surprising and unexpected ways.
KB: How many girls are currently in the program? Our “Classroom Series” generally include 10-15 girls per class and we continue to grow and expand. We are currently planning a series of summer programs that will expand our reach to more than 100 girls in both San Francisco and three additional cities (Oakland, Chicago, and Atlanta).
KB: Our biggest challenge, like most non-profit organizations, has been in finding funding to allow us to invest in the tools and infrastructure to allow our vision to grow and expand our program. We received a very generous Google R.I.S.E. (Roots in Science and Engineering) grant in January from more than 400 other applicants which has been crucial to our growth this year. We have also formed a very successful partnership with ThoughtWorks, Inc, a software company which has been a strong supporter of our mission and vision and which has provided us with resources for our classes both here in San Francisco and other cities where they have offices. We continue to look for other corporate sponsors to help us to reach more girls and expand our programs to those who need it the most.
KB: My biggest hope for Black Girls CODE in 2012, is to continue to see our program grow and flourish. We want to see our program reach over 175 girls this year and launch in additional cities.
KB: As a black woman in a male-dominated industry such as engineering you are bound to experience some form of gender or race bias at some point in your career. I have overcome these challenges by always maintaining a very strong self-assurance regarding my skills and abilities as both a woman, an engineer, and a professional. For me failure was not an option. So I have continually found ways to overcome obstacles and keep my “eyes on the prize” in terms of my career goals and aspirations. I feel strongly that as women we have to “own” our careers/destinies because no one else is going to be as invested in your success as you will. Also it is imperative that women find both mentors and sponsors who can help them guide and navigate the land mines along the way.
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