Removing barriers with Code Tenderloin
Justin DeMartra first visited our San Francisco office in May 2019 as a student participant in Code Tenderloin. As part of an early student cohort in this Bay Area nonprofit, we were excited to give them a glimpse of what it is like to work for a tech company, to discuss the paths for pursuing a career in tech, and share information on open source’s growing impact. This single visit was a milestone in Justin’s journey from hardship to now, upon completion of the program, working full time for Code Tenderloin as an Education Coordinator/IT Manager, giving back to the community and students like himself. Justin shares,
My visit to GitHub exposed me to a world that I did not believe existed for me as an African American male. From that turning point, I knew that I too, could be a part of a world that seemed to be non-inclusive to people of color. I found my love for computers and narrowed my focus to studying programming languages with the objective of becoming the first Software Developer in my family.”
Helping students through Code Tenderloin
Code Tenderloin’s mission is to remove barriers that keep people from securing long-term employment—things like large financial burdens to entry, legal challenges and lack of childcare, transportation, or education. From job readiness programs that help students create resumes, elevator pitches, and interview skills, to technical programs that serve as beginner courses in coding, the group works hard to empower underprivileged students.
Since 2015, the nonprofit has worked with over 10,000 people starting at age 17 and continuing on to seniors. Courses are free of charge and are offered regardless of background or level of education. Nearly all participants are living below the San Francisco poverty level, and nearly half are either homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness. Of the program participants, 82% graduate!
Code Tenderloin not only puts an emphasis on workforce development, but serves as an anchor in the community. The nonprofit supports locals with access to healthcare, food, and informative services (like COVID-19 vaccine information) to ensure equitable access is provided throughout the neighborhood.
Partnering to empower students
For nearly six years, GitHub has worked together with Code Tenderloin on a mission to educate and empower students in tech. We have welcomed students to tour our office, meet and workshop with employees, and hear from people across the company on how they got to where they are today. We’ve also hosted sessions where students practice their “elevator pitch” (a short snippet of their background and goals) to help them build the confidence it takes to launch their careers.
Bringing students to GitHub allows them to see themselves at a role at a major tech company and is a valuable part of the journey it takes to help these students achieve their dreams.” said Justin DeMarta.
As COVID-19 halted in-person visits, the partnership turned virtual in 2020. But that didn’t prevent the program and our team’s dedication to it. We participated in a panel for Code Tenderloin’s Summer Youth Intern program in July, speaking to more than 100 students, and for the first time invited students in the program to GitHub Universe, our annual global developer conference. In addition to providing access to the conference, we were able to host virtual 1:1 micro-mentoring sessions between GitHub employees and the Code Tenderloin students. This was an opportunity for newcomers to engage with industry experts on a wide variety of topics, ranging from marketing to product management. We’re proud that over 30 students participated in this inaugural event!
The future of GitHub and Code Tenderloin
Looking forward, we hope to not only continue our virtual relationship, but also resume in-person events both at GitHub and locally at Code Tenderloin’s campus in San Francisco. Working to not only inspire, but to leverage GitHub’s resources and knowledge is a part of Social Impact’s mission. Our partnership with Code Tenderloin has been a pillar in the work we do as a team and we are excited for what’s to come as we work together to help students start their journey in tech.