The geography of the tech sector is diversifying and Heartland cities are making major contributions, as executives and recruiters realize that the highly skilled professionals they have been looking for already exist in America’s small and mid-sized cities. These talented workers don’t want to (and shouldn’t be expected to) move to crowded, high-cost coastal cities.

Tech companies are also discovering significant diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) opportunities as they expand across the country. One America Works will be hosting a virtual roundtable on DEI in tech on August 25 (more details below) to explore these opportunities and we hope you will join the conversation. In this edition of The Mid-Point our team is spotlighting some of the public and private entities in various cities that are leading and finding success.

In Pittsburgh, we spoke recently with a community college leader about attracting and inspiring talented tech workers from diverse backgrounds, and learned about the impressive accomplishments of a local IT consulting firm. In Columbus, the Dean of The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering revealed a plan for attracting diverse, blue-collar candidates for jobs at Intel’s planned $20 billion semiconductor factory.

Google and Ford are creating coding labs for high-school students of color in Detroit. Down south, in Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix, we review a series of training courses that are tailored to women and girls who want to work in the tech sector. And in the mile high city, Denver, we get a critically important reminder from a dedicated expert: Inclusive and supportive work environments are essential for retaining talent.

There are many strategies for achieving an inclusive tech workforce, and at OAW, we don’t claim to have all the answers. But we do believe that our mission to promote geographical diversity in the tech sector, by bringing opportunities to America’s small and mid-sized cities, aligns extremely well with other efforts to achieve diversity at tech firms. Rather than demanding that tech workers relocate to high cost cities where only the wealthy can live comfortably, we can invest in, develop, and train a much more diverse tech workforce in the places they already live.

Inside this issue

  • DEI in Tech Roundtable on August 25: Inspiring Stories of Success
  • Interview with CCAC President on ‘Attracting and Inspiring’ Diverse Tech Talent
  • New UTD Camp Encourages Girls To Explore Expansive World of STEM
  • Can an In-Person Coding Lab Revitalize a City and Diversify the Tech Industry?
  • Mailchimp Giving Clayton State University $1 Million in Three-Year Deal

Want new ideas and best practices in DEI from experts in the field? Join One America Works on August 25 for our Roundtable. Diversity is critical for the success of any business: it creates room for new perspectives, enhances problem-solving, and spurs innovation. But fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment is no easy task.

Next Thursday we’re hosting a Virtual Roundtable, where DEI thought leaders and senior tech executives from across the country will share their exciting success stories of the impact they’ve made in their communities. Take this opportunity to learn from a highly experienced and dedicated panel, who have already paved the way. Register here while spots are still available.

Promoting diversity is both a challenge and an opportunity for the tech sector as it expands outside Silicon Valley and other traditional tech hubs. One America Works sought the expertise of Dr. Quintin Bullock, President of the Community College of Allegheny County, to learn how education and training programs are supporting tech sector growth in the Pittsburgh region and building pathways of inclusion to retain diverse talent into the sector at the same time. Read More

YWISE Investigators is a yearlong program that promotes scientific research and provides real-world research and design experience to increase high school students’ interest in STEM career opportunities. This year was the first time the program offered a summer camp. “Our goal is for all young women to have the opportunity to pursue the STEM career field of their choice, limited only by their imaginations. Programs such as YWISE not only raise awareness of what is possible, but also inspire the girls through valuable personal interactions with highly successful women in STEM while on the UTD campus.” Read More

Improving diversity, equity and inclusion in tech is top of mind for educators across the globe. And yet, when students of color in tech look around, they often realize that not many of their peers or teachers look like them. Several years ago, Google employees of color came together to talk about ways to address this ongoing challenge. Their collaborative conversations gave life to the Code Next program in 2015, according to Kyle Ali, Google’s lead program manager for Code Next. In the Code Next program, Google engages 9th through 12th graders in live coding labs where students “have access to live coaches, world-class technology and learning experiences that would both shape and mold their confidence,” Ali said. Read More

Atlanta-based email marketing company Mailchimp is giving Clayton State University $1 million for a school program that gives students hands-on training in tech. The funding supports Launchpad, a program in the university’s College of Information & Mathematical Sciences. The Mailchimp funding comes as south metro Atlanta has struggled to attract the kind of tech and education investment seen in the city and its northern suburbs. Interim Clayton State President Kerry Heyward said programs such as Launchpad are critical for Georgia’s colleges and universities. Read More