Milestones matter. They help us center ourselves in relation to the world around us and provide goals for which to aim. A driver’s license for a teenager. A one year anniversary for newlyweds. The first dollar in sales for a mom and pop business.
I had a goal in mind when I founded TechGirlz roughly seven years ago with a vision to nurture a love for technology amongst middle school girls and as part of my broader personal mission to help financially empower women through technology. 10,000 girls. It was crazy and so far out there I didn’t spend too much time fixated on it. The number was a mile marker in the distant future, or like the old McDonald’s signs where the numbers continued to tick over in the background as they served customers.
But flash forward to 2018, and that milestone is now very real. I am so happy to share that on March 3rd, 2018, we will commemorate our 10,000th girl in the program with a nationwide day of celebration. With TechShopz happening in Philadelphia, Raleigh, New Orleans, Denver and more, our girls will be using Facebook Live to learn together, eat cake, and enjoy the teamwork and camaraderie they’ve come to expect through TechGirlz.
This benchmark means so much to so many. For all the girls that have been a part of our journey, it is often something personal. Many send us emails or post online about how much the experience has meant — giving them confidence, teaching them skills, igniting a passion for tech.
It has also meant something to the adults that make our program possible. As a team, we are humbled and made proud by the results. And the volunteer instructors earn personal fulfillment as they pass along their love and proficiency in tech to the next generation.
As an organization, this is validation. It shows that we can reach our goal of breaking the cycle in tech by helping our middle school girls become engaged technologists, despite commonly held myths to the contrary. It proves that our model of quality, off the shelf coursework rooted in subjects the girls like works. It demonstrates that change is possible.
I must take this moment to thank so many people that have been a part of this moment. Our team at TechGirlz, our network of thousands of volunteer instructors, my boss and co-workers at Chariot for their support, our partners and funders, and — yes — my family. Without ALL of you, this would not be possible.
But like any good organization, attention must always be on the horizon. That is why we are taking the occasion of our 10,000th celebration to set our next goal: 20,000 girls by 2020. It’s aggressive, but that’s because the need is so great.
With one million tech jobs forecast to go unfilled by that year, and the ongoing disenfranchisement of women in the workplace and society, our work is more important than ever.
To help us reach this goal, we are launching an accompanying capital campaign to raise $1 million. We already have commitments from partners like CompTIA Creating IT Futures, and I am knocking on doors and meeting with more funders every day.
Those funds will be used to expand our program into even more cities and states, and reach more girls on our path to 20,000 in 2020. We have already built the model that can scale and proven its resonance. Now, we simply need to execute. So please reach out if you have names, introductions or suggestions for how we can meet our goals.
Together, it’s possible.