Code2040, a nonprofit that helps black and Latino students land internships and jobs in tech, just received $1.2 million from the Knight Foundation to boost two of its “signature” initiatives. The money will go toward Code2040’s Fellows Program, which secures internships at major tech companies for top engineering students, and Technical Applicant Prep (TAP), a program that readies students for careers in tech.
Code2040 believes the funding will allow it to double the number of students included in the Fellows Program–thereby furthering its mission by introducing minority candidates to tech companies that are severely lacking in diversity. “It is vitally important that the American workplace learns the competencies needed to engage, recruit, and retain communities of color,” Karla Monterroso, Code2040’s VP of programs, told Fast Company. “We are so excited to be partnered with the Knight Foundation. Their investment will be pivotal to our ability to scale this skill–building and opening opportunities for talented black and Latino innovators.”
As Fast Company wrote earlier this year, Code2040 already received $775,000 from Google in February, which the nonprofit put toward launching TAP. Through a residency program that was also established with Google’s investment, Code2040 is partnering with tech hubs in Chicago, Austin, and Durham to support black and Latino entrepreneurs; the selected residents will be charged with building a company and fostering diversity in those communities.
Code2040 was cofounded by CEO Laura Weidman Powers and Walker & Company Brands founder Tristan Walker, who Fast Company profiled last year. Despite Silicon Valley’s self-perception that it is a meritocracy, the tech world remains predominantly white and Asian–a result of deeply biased hiring practices. From our feature story on Walker:
It is racist, for example, to approach a recruiting firm with the mandate to fill an engineering position only with someone from one particular Ivy League school, where blacks comprise a single-digit percentage of the student population. It is racist to rely on employee referrals for hires, when the typical social network of a white American is 1% black. And it is racist to impose standards of “culture fit”—the absurd notion that employees must behave (and sometimes appear) in a way that makes others feel comfortable—on job candidates. These are typical, and convenient, hiring practices of startup founders. Under enormous pressure to grow their companies fast, they feel entitled to dismiss niceties such as an HR department that might seek out minority candidates. But their very inaction is a manifestation of extreme bias, even if it’s subconscious.