Black Girls Code (BGC) is living true to its name.

The organization exists to ensure at least 1 million girls of color will establish a presence in the tech industry by 2040 by partnering with schools, individuals who share its mission, and other organizations, a press release mentions. Among its efforts to bolster career paths in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics (STEAM) is providing computer programming education.

In October 2023, the organization hired former Salesforce executive Cristina Jones as its CEO. Jones’ experience also includes having worked at Twentieth Century Fox, where she was able to gain further experience within the entertainment sector and technology.

Now, in her latest role, the focus is on workforce development and fostering industry partnerships that will help to build the skills of its students and forge career pathways, as previously reported by AFROTECH™.

In 2023, the organization partnered with GoldieBlox to create Code Along, BGC’s free online coding academy. The most recent season teaches Scratch to learners ages 7-10 years old and is hosted by actress Kalani Jewel, a press release notes.

“BGC has built an incredible network of community, innovation, and transformational partnerships,” Jones explained in an exclusive email interview with AFROTECH™.  “I want to use these platforms to create more opportunities and support for participants as they prepare for their future careers and enter the workforce. Part of that is creating meaningful partnerships, like with RiseUp with ServiceNow, to create new professional and career pathways for youth.”

She continued, “I really want to hone in on supporting our students through the beginning stages of navigating their dream jobs and to see what they can become. There can be so much fear and uncertainty when you don’t know anyone who has entered a particular field. I want BGC to be an asset to our students and find comfort in knowing they’re not entering their dream jobs blind.”

Another pillar for Jones includes the expansion of BGC’s curriculum to include artificial intelligence (AI), leadership, and mental health. The aim is to preserve the creative nature of students as they become more equipped for their careers.

“We continue focusing on the idea of transforming STEM into STEAM education – believing that creativity is an integral part of the science, technology, engineering, and math track — to prepare our girls with the versatility needed for the future,” she comments.

For those looking to support the efforts of BGC, they can now shop on the organization’s e-commerce store, which features merchandise crafted to highlight its dedication to diversifying the tech field. Items will include baseball caps, crew logo socks, keychains, T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and tote bags, among others, per information provided to AFROTECH™.

Courtesy of Black Girls Code

The launch of the e-store is made possible through a partnership with full-service design group Elva, which waived its fees for BGC. This allowed the organization to hire Marie Muya, a computer science major at Virginia Tech, as its first paid intern. Since April 2024, she has been working to develop the e-store alongside Elva. 

Muya will maintain her role through June 2024.

“She has gained expertise in building an online store, from learning the fundamentals of our e-commerce platform to wire-framing and design QA,” Jones explained. “She’s been able to work on a project that exposes her to the inner workings of both a creative agency and a not-for-profit, giving her valuable work experience while building her portfolio in a competitive field. Her work will directly impact Black Girls Code, enabling us to reach our community in a new, meaningful way.”

Muya shared in a statement provided in a news release:

“Being part of the team that brought the Black Girls Code shop to life has been an incredibly rewarding experience. This opportunity not only allowed me to apply my skills in design and development but also gave me another great experience to add to my work resume.”

Michael Francis, Elva co-founder, commented:

“Powering the next generation of tech leaders through design is both a privilege and a responsibility. We see the BGC store as more than just merchandise – it’s a powerful statement of support for diversity in tech. We eagerly anticipate the Black Girls Code community embracing this platform and the positive impact it will have.”