Google Backs 3-City Program for Black, Latino Techies

Jessica Guynn, USA Today, March 16, 2015

The growing effort to get more African Americans and Hispanics to join tech companies or start their own is hitting the road, pushing beyond Silicon Valley into the rest of the nation.

Google is backing a new pilot program from CODE2040 in three cities. Starting this year in Chicago, Austin and Durham, N.C., the San Francisco non-profit will give minority entrepreneurs in each city a one-year stipend and free office space.

CODE2040 is a non-profit founded in 2012 that focuses on getting more African Americans and Hispanics into the tech workforce. It has graduated nearly 50 fellows, many of whom have gone to work for companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Uber. The group’s name refers to the year the population of minorities in the U.S. is expected to overtake whites.

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Silicon Valley has never been diverse, but until last year, no one had any idea just how dominated by white and Asian men the tech industry here is.

In May 2014, Google disclosed that 30% of its workers are female and in the U.S. 2% of its workers are African American and 3% are Hispanic.

By the end of the summer, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and other major tech companies had followed with their own statistics, all of which showed the same lack of diversity.

“Releasing our numbers last year was a really important first step, and we were really happy to see other companies do that as well,” says John Lyman, head of partnerships for Google for Entrepreneurs. “This is an issue that Google really cares about. We really believe that better products are created by a workforce as diverse as the people who use them.”

That said, “a lot of the conversation is happening in Silicon Valley, which is great. But we also want to get it out to different parts of the country,” Lyman says.

So Google is putting money and resources behind the new CODE2040 Residency. CODE2040 received $775,000 in grants from Google in February to work on bringing more African Americans and Hispanics into tech.

Beyond getting the free office space in tech hubs in Chicago, Austin and Durham for one year and $40,000 in seed funding for their start-ups, the three entrepreneurs also get a trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., as well as face time with investors, mentoring from entrepreneurs through Google For Entrepreneurs and CODE2040’s network and support from CODE2040 on building their diversity programs.

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