by Kyle Walcott of Blavity
Through the support of this powerful organization, students are becoming equipped with the tools necessary to combat the lack of minority representation in tech.
Over the past decade, the lure of finding success in the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) has skyrocketed as many of the nation’s most popular tech companies have pushed scientific innovation to the forefront. Also, well-sought after brands such as Google, Apple, and Facebook—as well as hundreds of startups—have placed their roots in the country’s biggest market for tech, Silicon Valley.
For years, this region of California’s Bay area has produced thousands of jobs and opportunities for ambitious, innovative dreamers who desire to climb the ranks as the new frontier in tech continues to rise.
While a plethora of organizations in the valley promote diversity to the masses, there has been a glaring disparity in how they have practiced it, as the representation of blacks and minorities in tech stands vastly underwhelming. Although many may be quick to attack the source and fault the companies at hand, leading groups like the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) have taken the other route to recognize that the problem lies in the lack of organizations serving as a bridge between minorities and manufacturers.
UNCF, one of the nation’s most renowned organizations dedicated to building pipelines for underrepresented students to become highly qualified college graduates, has put itself at the forefront of educating and empowering our young leaders of color as they enter the lucrative, but challenging, STEM industry.
Under the leadership of UNCF employees: Dr. Chad Womack, National Director of STEM Initiatives and the Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program, as well as Senior Managers, Carita Marrow and Lu Duong, the organization has created two powerful avenues to the leading names in tech via the HBCU ICE Summit and the Fund II STEM Scholars Program.
Each year, “ICE”, which stands for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship, gathers over 50 students and numerous faculty members for a four-day summit designed to encourage minority students to carve out their careers and pursue their passions within STEM. By fielding students from more than 30 HBCUs to attend the conference, UNCF motivates highly competitive companies throughout Silicon Valley to see our students of color as a cohort of applicants equal to the majority whom they should seek quality talent from.