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Tackling the tech world

#YesWeCode connects minorities, women to Silicon Valley

Cynthia E. Griffin | 7/17/2014, midnight

It may be extremely difficult and perhaps even impossible, as CNN News found out in 2011, to get the data on just how many minorities and women work at Silicon Valley’s top tech companies. But there’s one thing evident, the number is definitely not enough.

Van Jones—co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” a former green jobs advisor to the Obama White House, as well as president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream, a platform for bottom-up, people-powered innovations to help fix the U.S. economy—is working to change that reality.

Last week he joined forces with Pop icon Prince at the Essence Music Festival to publicize what he is calling the first national pipeline to get “high potential, low opportunity” minority youth and women under age 25 into jobs in the tech world.

Jones is calling the pipeline “#YesWeCode,” and it consists of a network of organizations across the nation that are introducing African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and women to coding via programs such as Los Angeles Urban Teens eXploring Technology (URBAN TxT), which is a technology leadership training program.

The organizations include San Francisco-based Black Girls Code that uses afterschool programs and workshops to teach young girls to seek job training programs that prepare people for work in the industry.

According to Jones, #YesWeCode serving as the organizing body to link all the groups together and to see which program develops the best approach at each step in the process. It is also the face of the campaign and will help connect the organizations with tech companies like Google and Facebook that will eventually do the hiring.

Jones, who is quick to acknowledge that Silicon Valley didn’t become primarily White male in a minute, knows it will take time to diversify, but he sees #YesWeCode as a critical next step to hit the target of training 100,000 diverse folks over the next five to 10 years.

To find out the organizations that are involved, go to the website www.yeswecode.org and click on the link “get connected” to find a group nearby.