Studies show diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers remains a society-wide issue. According to a recent Pew Research study, Black and Hispanic workers remain underrepresented – for example, Black workers make up 11% of the U.S. workforce but account for only 9% of the STEM workforce – while two out of every three U.S. women report not being encouraged to pursue a career in STEM.
Why is this so important? Because in today’s economy, STEM goes hand-in-hand with opportunity. STEM fields out-earn all others by 12-30%, and STEM-related jobs grew three times the rate of others between 2000 and 2010.
That same Pew study also shows a close link between education and the long-term outlook for diversity in the STEM workforce. Which means any honest conversation about financial inclusion needs to seriously address the topic of equity in STEM schooling and employment.
That’s where We All Code comes in.
As part of our commitment to racial equity and financial inclusion, TransUnion is proud to partner with We All Code, a nonprofit dedicated to sparking curiosity in coding among students aged 7 to 18, with a particular focus on girls, students of color, and underserved students.
Their mission involves introducing a diverse group of children to the fun of coding by providing free educational resources and hands-on classes. They believe every kid deserves to excel in one of the emerging fields of STEM, whether they choose to pursue more education or go straight into careers in computer science.
“Every student should have an opportunity to build foundational skills when it comes to STEM,” said We All Code Founder and CEO Ali Karbassi. But as he acknowledged, there are some significant barriers when it comes to access. “Most students don’t have a working computer at home, much less a school that teaches programming.” Bridging that gap in resources and encouragement goes a long way, especially during those formative years.
In support of this effort, TransUnion is funding five coding cohorts this school year. Each We All Code cohort includes up to 10 high schoolers with a focus on girls, youth of color and students from Chicago’s South and West Sides considering post-secondary careers in STEM fields.
“I had a lot of fun finishing my game and getting the satisfaction of knowing I coded every part of the game,” said Franklin Hughes (age 14). “Understanding how code works and how I can use it to make a game, app or whatever I want has been one of the most crucial things I learned.”
The cohorts engage students in a series of 90-minute coding classes over the course of eight weeks, covering topics ranging from front-end and back-end development to design and communication. Students are also tasked with at-home projects to complete throughout the program, collaborating with peers and guided by instructors and mentors along the way.
Programming is currently underway, with the first cohort recently completed and the next cohorts starting in Spring 2022.
Providing STEM education to underprivileged youth is just one of many ways we can address inequities and improve financial inclusion. But as with all ambitious and worthy efforts, it begins with small acts and simple steps.
If you’re interested in helping out, visit WeAllCode.org for more on their mission and vision, as well as opportunities to donate or volunteer. We also encourage you to learn more about our goals and commitments around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at TransUnion.
Because when anyone can code, everybody wins.