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10 Volunteer Opportunities For Tech Professionals To Transform Their Communities

By Alexis Getscher
May 11, 2016
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tech volunteer opportunities, diversity

When people think of the tech industry, this idea of a bunch of introverts sitting inside a dark room with bright computer screens tends to pop in their heads. We’re data loving geeks and nerds who spend our days discussing binary, self-driving cars and how to “disrupt” everything. And while all of that may be true to an extent, we’re also so much more.

We’re events, social media and design; offices with ping pong tables, employee outings and happy hours. The tech industry is a wonderful place to start a career and it has a growing demand for skilled workers.

According to a 2013 report, there are 25,000 high-skill jobs unfilled in Washington state alone and an additional 5,000 high-tech jobs are expected to open every year for the foreseeable future. Additionally, a 2015 survey of nearly 26,000 software developers found that 92% identified as male.

Combine that with the growing wage-gap and cost of higher education and we have a large equal opportunity and diversity issue. The good news is, there are organizations all over the country that are working to close the gap, create more diversity and make careers in STEM available and obtainable to all.

Gender diversity, tech

Below, learn about some of those organizations and what you can do to get involved, from donating time or money to offering internships and company tours.

Year Up, National

Year Up empowers low-income young adults to go from poverty to professional careers in a single year. The organization exists to close the Opportunity Divide by providing young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

85% of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college full-time within four months of completing the program.

How you can get Involved

Become a Mentor

Donate 


ChickTech, National

ChickTech exists to empower and retain women working in technology with a vision that includes equal pay, participation and treatment. The organization runs programs and events including ChickTech: High School, which is a year-long program focused on engineering; ChickTech: Career, which includes a number of events developed to create a community of women and provide them with career, technical, emotional and social support; and Code Scouts, an organization running with the notion that everyone should feel welcome in tech.

How you can get Involved

Start a Chapter in Your Area

Volunteer


Girls Who Code, National

Girls Who Code works to inspire, educate and equip girls with the skills they need to pursue 21st-century tech opportunities. The program combines intensive instruction in robotics, web design and mobile development with mentorship and exposure with the industry’s top female engineers and entrepreneurs.  

How you can get Involved

Volunteer

Provide an Internship

Donate


CodeDay, National

CodeDay takes place from noon to noon May 21-22 and is an opportunity for high school and college students of all skill levels to get together and build games and apps in 24 hours. The event begins with anyone with an idea pitching it to the group, teams are formed and then the work begins. Mentors and workshops are available throughout the day as well and attendees are encouraged to bring a pillow and sleeping bag to get some rest during the overnight event.

How you can get Involved

Be a Mentor

Be a Judge

Volunteer


CoderDojo, Global

CoderDojo is a community of free, volunteer-led programming clubs for children and young adults. Attendees learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and explore technology in an informal and creative environment.

How you can get Involved

Start a Dojo in your area

Volunteer/Mentor


Techbridge, Bay Area

Techbridge began as a program of the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California as a way to expand academic and career options for girls in science, technology and engineering. In 2011, it broke off as its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit and has reached thousands of girls through after-school and summer programs. They’ve also partnered with 20 Girl Scout councils across the United States for the Girls Go Techbridge project.

How you can get Involved

Donate to the organization

Volunteer as a mentor or host an outing at your office


Ignite, Seattle

Ignite was created in the Seattle Public School District with a mission to inspire girls to be future technology leaders and innovators. According to its website, Ignite discovered that “inviting girls to informational programs where they met women working in STEM careers immediately increased their interest up to 50% in technology programs offered by the school district.”

Through panel discussions, job shadowing, technology workshops, mentoring, and field trips, Ignite has educated and empowered over 30,000 young women to pursue education and careers in STEM. 

How you can get Involved

Donate to the Organization

Start a Chapter

Become a Volunteer or Mentor


Ada Academy, Seattle

Ada Developers Academy is an intensive, year-long software developer training school for women. The program begins with 7 months of in-classroom instruction and is followed by by an internship with a Puget Sound tech company.

The program is supported by the tech community, public funding and individual donors and is therefore tuition-free for students.

How you can get Involved

Donate

Become a Company Sponsor


HERE Seattle, Seattle

HERE Seattle puts on city-wide events with the goal of bringing people together to advocate for a more diverse tech world. The organization seeks to grow, empower, and inspire the community through events, mentoring and engaging programming around business and culture. 

How you can get Involved

Become a Member


Technology Access Foundation, Seattle

TAF works to equip students of color for success in life through the power of STEM education. The organization leverages in-school and out-of-school learning with the goal to graduate students from high school with advanced prep for STEM majors and careers.

How you can get Involved

Donate

Become a Partner


All of the organizations above (and many others) are working to transform the tech world and create a more diverse community that is available and welcoming to all, regardless of income, race or gender.

Each one offers a unique opportunity for tech professionals to support STEM education and give back to the communities that will shape the future of the industry.

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