Written by TechGirlz Founder, Tracey Welson Rossman
A little more than nine years ago I put the wheels in motion on a passion project that would eventually become TechGirlz. Over the years – as this crazy idea took root and grew into something real and filled with meaning – I began to think of it as my third child. Now, on the cusp of turning ten and hitting its stride with 15,000 alumnae, it’s time to allow TechGirlz to flex its muscles a bit and be a proper preteen.
That’s why today we announced that CompTIA’s workforce charity Creating IT Futures Foundation has formally acquired TechGirlz. You can read all about it in this press release or in the Q&A I did with Creating IT Futures CEO Charles Eaton and former TechGirlz participant Sarah Johnson.
By the way – for those that I know will ask – no, nonprofits don’t acquire each other like traditional for-profit enterprises. There is no big check in this for me or anyone at TechGirlz. It is simply an acquisition of teams and assets in service to a mission. We’re still the same people with the same earnest passion.
It is truly what you would call a win-win. We get to keep all the things we love, hand off the things we don’t love to someone else, and plan for much, much bigger things together.
TechGirlz will continue to operate as a unique brand with our team and headquarters in Philadelphia. We will still create, share and manage TechShopz around the country. And we will still be a critical part of the tech lives of middle school girls everywhere.
But we will begin dreaming much bigger. With Creating IT Futures’ institutional support, we no longer have to manage the day-to-day operations of the organization, freeing up our teams to focus on what they know and love. At the same time, Creating IT Futures will help us scale even faster by taking over our fundraising campaigns and lending operational insights and support.
That ability to focus purely and joyfully on serving more girls is only one reason why we reached this agreement. The other is because we both share a mission. Creating IT Futures speaks our language.
In the years we’ve partnered with them before this deal, it was apparent they had the same concerns about America’s growing technology gap. There simply are not enough qualified workers to fill all the open tech jobs in the country – especially when new jobs and careers come online every day.
Like TechGirlz, they view this gap as an opportunity for those that have traditionally been ignored or left behind when it comes to learning tech skills – women, minorities, wounded veterans, and others. Our united mission is to help inspire and prepare a generation of technologists, and build a path beginning at a young age for all those that want to participate in the tech economy.
Ultimately, a tech career is a ticket to newly empowered economic and social status for these individuals. By lending our insights and the learnings gained over almost a decade, I am confident TechGirlz will help augment Creating IT Futures’ mission as much as they will ours.
Like any parent shaking their head at wonderment at a young child entering their preteens with new skills and confidence, I am both apprehensive and proud. I wonder what the future brings as we broaden our view by reaching for higher rungs on the ladder. But I am also bursting with pride at how far we’ve come – from my husband and I paying for snacks for the first few TechShopz out of our pockets to managing 250 TechShopz and thousands of volunteers a year.
I’m sure that I will shed a few tears once I step back and process all this. But they will be joyful ones. I have learned so much from this experience already. It has helped me embrace my role as an advocate and leader on behalf of other women and our girls, and it has clearly illuminated a rewarding passion that will steer the rest of my life. It has also been gratifying to know that we have positively impacted the lives of thousands of girls and families and mentors.
It’s important that I take this moment to also thank everyone that has been so important to this journey: the TechGirlz team, my Chariot family, our volunteer instructors, the parents of our girls, our partners, and – most importantly – my own family. Your emotional, professional, and monetary support has been essential and it has meant so much to so many. I appreciate it beyond words. I look forward to bringing you along with us for the next part of the ride.
Because more than anything, I am giddy about the road ahead and our prospects for the future. This is not the closing of a chapter but rather the opening of a door. With Creating IT Futures standing behind us, the opportunity is enormous.