Uber's new 8-80 Coding program backs Coded by Kids, TechGirlz and The ITEM - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 30, 2017 10:31 am

Uber’s new 8-80 Coding program backs Coded by Kids, TechGirlz and The ITEM

The ridesharing company will fund year-long programs at three local nonprofits. The company said its a push to make the tech community “more reflective of our community as a whole.”

At a Coded by Kids workshop.

(Courtesy video)

A diversity-aimed initiative from ridesharing giant Uber will help three local nonprofits deploy year-long coding programs for underrepresented communities in technology.

8-80 Coding, announced today in a blog post, is a Philly-specific initiative that will fund coding programs powered by Coded by Kids, The ITEM and TechGirlz.

“We’re working with three of the region’s top nonprofits to expand coding education for kids and adults,” said Craig Ewer, Uber’s Philly comms lead, in the blog post. “From our rec centers to our tech centers, we want Philadelphians to have access to the work opportunities generated by tech education, but also to experience the personal satisfaction and fun of building something new.”

The program, Ewer said, is also aimed at expanding the pipeline of people historically underrepresented in technology and making Philadelphia’s tech community more reflective of our community as a whole.

Financial specifics from 8-80 (a name referring to the range of ages the program wants to reach) aren’t being disclosed.

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Here’s what each organization is doing through the partnership:

  • Coded by Kids — Deploy a year-long program at Academy at Palumbo public high school in South Philly. Students will work on basic web development.
  • TechGirlz — Fund its ongoing series of workshops and events.
  • The ITEM — Help four “Uber Scholars” complete a certification on Amazon Web Services, a highly sought-after certification on the job market.

“We are excited to work with Uber to ensure Philadelphia’s pipeline of tech talent is diverse and well prepared to compete in the innovation economy,” said Coded by Kids COO Maggie Deptola. “Uber knows that jobs are becoming increasingly more technical and skilled, and by investing in a Pathways into Tech program they are making a commitment to provide more students with the opportunity to get those technical skills.”

It’s been a bit of a year for Uber. Since a scathing blog post from former employee Susan Fowler surfaced in February – in which the former engineer bashed the ridesharing company for “sexism within the organization” – the San Francisco-based company has been in damage control mode. As a response, it ordered an “urgent” investigation into the allegations.

Following the departure of its CEO Travis Kalanick in June, it set up a $3 million “diversity fund” from which it backed nonprofit Girls Who Code with a $1.2 million donation.

Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant told TechCrunch in August it had turned down a $125,000 donation from the company citing “their past history and ‘political’ nature of maneuvering is and was troubling.” (Girl Develop It Executive Director Corinne Warnshuis recently discussed a similar experience with an unnamed national brand.)

For Ewer, the 8-80 Coding program is the beginning of more work, locally and at a corporate level, to back diversity-geared initiatives.

“We’re ready to make a difference in Philadelphia and continue building a future that is more diverse and more inclusive,” the spokesman said.

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