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Twin Cities’ rising tide of diversity in IT

Twin Cities' rising tide of diversity in IT
The tide is rising in Minneapolis, and it is taking all of the wickedly smart, highly talented and underrepresented technology professionals with it. Diversity is an advantage that the best Twin Cities companies are aggressively chasing — and for good reason. A diverse team is going to bring more strength and ingenuity to their clients. Here’s a breakdown of how the Twin Cities are getting ahead of the curve.
 
Good ol’ USA Government’s TechHire Initiative
Focuses on providing training for people of color and women interested in high-tech careers. You might know this better as the coding boot camps of PRIME Digital Academy, The Software Guild, and Creating IT Futures Foundation. In it’s pilot year (2015) there are over 200 graduates representing 32% female; 24% minorities.
 
TechUP intentionally recruits badass, underrepresented and strikingly talented tech professionals with a variety of skills. We especially seek women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, veterans, and people who live with a disability. Check out their next event on June 9, 2016 at Target Plaza Commons 
 
#unlockthecode discussions — These are focused on increasing diversity in technology and entrepreneurship. Two major influencers are Civic Eagle — An African American startup that enhances mobile engagement for civic groups, and Twin Cities Blacks in Technology — a local chapter and meet-up group of a national professional platform. Stay tuned to both for more events.
speaking of…
This is a two-day hackathon focusing on projects that will improve the local community. Diverse project teams brainstorm and create products and solutions to enhance economic opportunity, education, health, and safety in the African American and other underserved communities. June 4-5 at the Minneapolis Central Library. Go! This is so important.
 
This is a great example of how one company can make a difference on the scene. Clockwork is asking Twin Cities’ businesses to sign a pledge to change the workforce to be more inclusive. Simple, effective, and powerful.
 
Female/Women Focused Groups These are all amazing communities of female tech innovators spanning from the well-established leaders to the aspiring coders. The more that women are involved with technology development and design and innovation, the more successful the Twin Cities will be in the future.
Geekettes — a world-wide (!) organization of women in technology. The Twin Cities has a strong hub full of amazing technologists. Find an ambassador and give them a shout.
Hack The Gap — an all-female Hackathon that launched with it’s first event in mid-May. This amazing organization is founded by two of TC’s finest: Kristen Womack and Jenna Pederson.
Gr8Ladies — an organization for women in the Groovy community
Pyladies Twin Cities — A group of ‘Pythonistas’ who provide a friendly outreach to women interested in Python.
Girls in Tech — a sweet social network of professional women. Mentorships, resources, job boards, events, and more.
Girls Develop It — a non-profit in 53 cities around the US that aims to provide “affordable and judgment-free opportunities for women interested in learning web and software development.” In person classes and a community of support, they’re closing the gap for women with diverse backgrounds.
Lesbians Who Tech (And Friends!) — “The community of queer women in and around tech (and the people who love them)”. 
This is a national non-profit organization that creates a network “to inspire women to excel in technology careers.” Recently launched in the Twin Cities, this is a growing group that we can expect to see some great things from. Hacknights and study groups are all on the calendar for the summer. 
This is a gathering of founders, community champions, hackers, designers and hustlers from underrepresented backgrounds, with an emphasis on people of color such as Latino/as and Blacks in tech and startups. Join in for a conversation on how to improve diversity and inclusion in the Twin Cities and supporting minorities in startups.
 
Empulse’s home for the past two years has been the Uptown CoCo, and we cannot say enough wonderful things about it. They are giving out Fellowships for underrepresented entrepreneurs, as well as partnering with CODE2040 and Google for Entrepreneurs.
 
Code Savvy a local nonprofit organization inspiring a kids and teens to explore computer programming and creative problem solving. Code Savvy initiatives include
CoderDojo Twin Cities: a free opensource playground for kids to learn programming
TechnovationMN: a STEM initiative for girls
Get With the Program: a tech workshop for educators
Northside Code Clubs: North Minneapolis kids learning HTML, CSS, Javascript and Python. Yes, yes yes.
The coolest part of this list is that I’m certainly missing some major players in the Twin Cities diversification efforts. Feel free to shout-out to your favorite.