In February, UC Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), in collaboration with the ICS Office of Outreach, Access & Inclusion (OAI), celebrates Black History Month by highlighting pioneers in science and technology and sharing resources to expand diversity in tech. “Celebrating Black History Month in computing is vital,” says Vinh Luong, Assistant Director of OAI. “It’s an opportunity to honor past contributions and to fuel future innovations with diverse perspectives.”
This year, we’re again reminding the ICS community of groups here on campus designed to support Black students, faculty and staff. “Along with the campus groups highlighted below,” says Luong, “OAI works to support ICS students, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, by offering a variety of resources such as no-cost tutoring and mentorship programs.”
Luong has also helped to update the previous ICS list of organizations supporting diversity in tech. As you’ll see in the list of resources provided, the following five organizations have been added:
- Codepath, cofounded by Michael Ellison and ICS alum Nathan Esquenazi;
- ColorStack, founded by Jehron Petty;
- iAAMCS, directed by Kinnis Gosha;
- the Kapor Foundation, with Allison Scott serving as CEO; and
- Reboot Representation, with Dwana Franklin-Davis serving as CEO.
“Notably, all of these organizations,” says Luong, “are led by Black leaders focused on broadening access to K-12 CS education and diversifying computing in higher education or industry.”
The following organizations at UCI are focused on supporting the Black community:
The Black Faculty & Staff Association provides a sense of purpose for African American faculty and staff by creating a presence on campus that is visible, supportive, nurturing, and productive in serving the needs of the African American community.
The Black Graduate Student Network provides an encouraging, inclusive, social networking community for African-American graduate and professional students at UCI. The organization’s goals are to strengthen camaraderie among African-American students, celebrate the culture they proudly represent, and voice their life and educational experiences to younger underrepresented students so that they may be inspired and supported to pursue graduate education.
The Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research provides a just, safe, vibrant, inclusive, culturally supportive, and socio-ecologically sustainable space — a home away from home — where Black students can thrive and reach for their highest potential.
The East African Student Association is a cultural organization dedicated to building a community amongst the East African student population and sharing meaningful experiences and conversations.
The National Society of Black Engineers is a student organization that helps improve the recruitment and retention of Black engineering students.
The Nigerian Student Association is a cultural organization that aims to bring together students and staff from the African diaspora who are interested in learning more about the roots and beauty of Nigeria.
In addition to these groups is the Black Thriving Initiative, which UCI developed specifically to recognize and respond to “anti-Blackness as an existential threat to our mission as public research university.” The initiative is working to create a university culture where Black people thrive.
The following nationwide organizations are working to increase diversity in STEM education and the tech industry:
- AnitaB.org supports women in technical fields.
- AllStarCode teaches computer science skills to young Black men.
- BioGals empowers women of color and engages communities to co-create dynamic solutions for a more sustainable world.
- Black Girls Code builds pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology.
- Black in AI has thousands of members working on initiatives to increase the presence of Black people in the field of Artificial Intelligence.
- Black Founders seeks to empower Black tech entrepreneurs by creating an ecosystem of advice, mentorship, and funding.
- Blacks in Technology is a Tech focused community and media organization that is dedicated to increasing the representation and participation of Black people in the technology industry.
- Blacks United in Leading Technology International (BUiLT) is dedicated to increasing the representation and participation of Black people in the technology industry by fostering the connection, development, and employment of our members.
- Cite Black Women is a campaign to push people to engage in a radical praxis of citation that acknowledges and honors Black women’s transnational intellectual production.
- Code2040 aims to dismantle structural barriers that prevent Black and Latinx people from becoming tech industry leaders.
- Codepath is dedicated to reprogramming higher education — through industry-vetted courses and career support — to create a more diverse generation of engineers, CTOs, and founders.
- ColorStack is working to increase the number of Black and Latinx computer science graduates who pursue rewarding technical careers.
- Data for Black Lives is a movement of activists, organizers and mathematicians committed to the mission of using data science to create concrete and measurable change in the lives of Black people.
- /dev/color is a nonprofit networking organization that empowers Black software engineers to become industry leaders.
- Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research is an interdisciplinary and globally distributed AI research institute rooted in the belief that AI is not inevitable, its harms are preventable, and when its production and deployment include diverse perspectives and deliberate processes it can be beneficial.
- Institute for African-American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS) aims to increase the number of African-Americans obtaining doctoral degrees in computing sciences.
- Kapor Foundation is deeply involved in promoting equitable computer science education through the Equitable CS Curriculum Initiative, by developing culturally responsive-sustaining CS pedagogy, and with a framework for K-12 computer science.
- People of Color in Tech is the world’s leading platform for people of color in tech to share, grow, and get hired.
- The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition aims to double the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women graduating with computing degrees by 2025.
- StrongTIES promotes K-12 STEAM education.
- Zyrobotics is an educational technology company that makes STEM learning accessible to all children.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a starting point for finding supportive resources.
— Shani Murray