During Hour of Code Week, We Salute the Nonprofits Working to Close the Tech Gap

It’s Hour of Code week.

Hour of Code is a global movement by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org that reaches millions of students worldwide through a one-hour introduction to computer science and coding.

Few know that Hour of Code has its roots in both education and social justice. Hadi Partovi and his brother Ali founded nonprofit Code.org in 2013 with the mission of “expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities.”

It’s a crucial mission, too. Some say coding is the most important job skill of the future. Even in 2016, eight out of the top 25 jobs are tech jobs according to Glassdoor. Coding jobs aren’t just in the tech field, either. Seventy percent are actually in other sectors. And since coding strengthens logic and problem-solving skills , even if kids don’t end up working in the tech field at all, they still benefit from learning it.

It’s crystal clear that learning to code is important. But we also want to acknowledge the other half of Code.org’s mission: increasing gender, racial, and socioeconomic diversity in tech education and, by extension, in the tech workforce.

Diversity is important not just for moral reasons but for practical ones, as well.Studies showthat being around people who don’t all look the same makes us better. Socially diverse groups are more innovative and better at problem solving. They promote hard work and creativity.

And yet because most public schools don’t teach coding or computer science, underprivileged kids who can’t afford to take private lessons or attend summer camps are left out and left behind. And gender inequality and stereotypes often work to keep women out of the tech field. Women only hold about a quarter of all tech jobs even though we represent more than half of the human race.

Hour of code is a yearly reminder that coding is important and that coding is for everyone. We at TechBridge also want to salute the local nonprofits who are playing the long game. Groups like Cool Girls, Inc., AloeKids.org, CodeStart, and Girls Who Code work year-round to pave the way for better diversity in tech. Their afterschool programs, camps, and classes help kids develop coding talents and send the message that they have a place at the tech table, too.