Only 4% of the tech workforce in companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple are Hispanics, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal. Hispanics make up 27% of the population in Silicon Valley but are severely underrepresented in the tech industry. Diversity in tech is not a talent pipeline issue. Several studies show that there are more Black and Hispanic computer science and computer-engineering students graduating from college than are working in the tech sector. Tech companies seem determined to address this contentious issue, but much more work and commitment is required to not only look at internal recruiting practices, but also culture in these companies. A very crucial first step is for tech companies to invest and engage with the communities around them. We at Silicon Valley Talent Partnership create opportunities for companies in the valley to do just that. Technovate, held on April 9th, 2016, at Alpha Public School in East San Jose, was an attempt to build that bridge between Silicon Valley and the communities it exists in. At Alpha, where the demographic leans 88% Hispanic, students learn to code, build robots, and delve deep in computer science. John Glover, the founder and CEO of Alpha Public Schools in East San Jose, is all too familiar with the lack of diversity in tech and his vision with Technovate is to connect his students with Silicon Valley’s innovation community early on. Technovate brought employees from Cisco, SAP, Google, Facebook, SanDisk, Oracle, Samsung, Microsoft, PayPal, Square and others to Alpha Public School in East San Jose. It was a full day event with speakers, demos, workshops and a speed mentoring session, which allowed middle school students and families to interact with individuals currently working in tech. Despite the rain, more than 400 students and families assembled at Alpha School early on a Saturday morning. Students experienced virtual reality with Google Cardboard led by Gabe Alatorre and Oscar Cullen, and Shawnee Baughman from Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Microsoft’s Technology and Civic Engagement Fellow, Andrew Hernandez, taught students how to code with Minecraft. SAP’s Vice President of Portfolio and Strategy, Dean Sivara, introduced the concept of Design Thinking to the students— who before Dean’s presentation thought SAP was just a venue for hockey and concerts. LinkedIn’s Oscar Garcia, Andrea Carlos, and Zach Roberts all took turns showcasing students various LinkedIn tools to navigate through college and career. We were very fortunate to have Gloria Kimbwala, a campus program specialist at Square, to lead workshops on career in tech and looking for scholarships for college. As a woman engineer of color in tech industry, Gloria understands the lack of diversity first hand. She is determined to be a force of change, to move that needle, to shatter ceilings. Parents found her advice invaluable and left motivated to stay involved in their children’s lives. A panel discussion on career in tech, featured Ricardo Benavidez from Google, Jessica Ruvalcaba from Samsung, Jorge A. Barrera from Cisco, Gloria Kimbwala from Square and Joseph Phan, Developer Support Engineer, Facebook. A parent in the audience felt that, “the speakers were very motivating and authentic in sharing their stories & experiences.” Speaking in both English and Spanish, panelists shared their personal stories of humble beginnings and their experience working in the tech sector. The event concluded with an hour-long speed mentoring session where 27 mentors from various tech companies made themselves available to students and their families. Feedback from both the mentors and the mentees were enormously positive. Our takeaway from this event is that there is a massive need for engagements such as Technovate— and our communities are strengthened as of result of these activities. We invite tech companies to invest time in the Silicon Valley communities and actively participate in developing the next generation of talent pool, which is as diverse as the consumers. For inquiries, interest and/or inspiration, please email us at email@example.com. Srijana Angdembey, SVTP Engagement Manager Srijana@svtpca.org You can see photo album of this event here ==> http://bit.ly/1VXV4u1 About Silicon Valley Talent Partnership: Silicon Valley Talent Partnership (SVTP) creates, sources, and manages innovative and meaningful partnerships between private-sector volunteers and civic agencies, capitalizing on the unique opportunity to restore public sector’s capacity to innovate, enhance service delivery, and ultimately improve the quality of life of residents and communities across Silicon Valley. We must invest the same creative muscle and resources we put toward our products into neighborhoods. We must ask how to fulfill the very real needs of communities in ways that are relevant to our business, take advantage of our strengths while being cost-effective and, yes, potentially profitable. About Alpha Public Schools: Alpha Public Schools is a public charter school network serving grades 5-10 (eventually 5-12) that prepares low-income communities with the knowledge, skills, and character traits they will need to succeed in college and career. By focusing on building collaborative relationships, empowering teachers, and integrating technology with teaching, Alpha Public Schools aims to personalize student learning for each student to ensure that they have the skills ready for future success. Alpha Schools serves 913 students in 3 schools where 88% of students are Hispanic and 8% are Vietnamese in the East Side of San Jose. 95% of students are on free or reduced lunch and 50% of the students are English language learners.
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