Looking back on 2020 (and ahead to 2021)

2020 has shed a light on what many of us have known all along. People of color are routinely being excluded from equity and ultimately being left out of the future. After this spring’s unarmed killings of Black people and COVID-19 again laid bare the continued systemic oppression in our country, companies are reckoning with the ways that they contribute to this oppression. There’s energy to create change, in 2021 and beyond.

At Reboot, 2020 has provided us the opportunity to share our mission far and wide. As we reflect on what we’ve accomplished since our launch in 2018, we are motivated to continue centering Black, Latina, and Native American women in the movement for equity.

Strengthening the Collective Power of the Reboot Coalition

The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition now has 18 members, and we continue to welcome companies who are committed to addressing the systemic inequities in the tech industry. In 2020, the Coalition welcomed Walmart, Cognizant, and Comcast NBCUniversal. Their commitment is critical. The power of the coalition grows with each new member, and we can’t wait to welcome even more in 2021. No single company created gender and racial inequity in the industry, but as a collective, they have the unique power to change the current landscape.

Our new members are joining a strong coalition of companies that have committed $21.1 million to increase the numbers of Black, Latina, and Native American women in computing. But the coalition’s power goes beyond monetary resources. Our coalition members meet regularly to talk, share, and learn from one another about programs and initiatives in diversity, equity, and inclusion — and particularly those that support Black, Latina, and Native American women. These conversations often happen behind closed doors, but at Reboot, we truly believe that if you’re serious about diversity, you need to start working with your competitors.

Our coalition members stepped up to the challenges of 2020 and collectively shared resources on addressing racial equity and COVID-19. In collaboration with some of our coalition members, Reboot also provided students and managers with resources for remote internships and had conversations that we hope will move the needle for increasing representation in 2021 and beyond.

Defining Representation with Reboot Grantees

Together, the Coalition funds organizations serving Black, Latina, and Native American women and supports them in gaining college-level computing skills. These organizations set the path to doubling the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women receiving computing degrees by 2025. Reboot launched our grantee spotlight series, featuring interviews with our grantees whose on-the-ground work is driving progress. Here’s a look at what a few of our grantees accomplished this year:

  • The United Negro College Fund, in partnership with Reboot Representation, established Black Females moving Forward in Computing, a program that will provide academic and mentoring support for Black women pursuing computing degrees.
  • The Kapor Center and American Indian Science and Engineering Society began piloting new curricula for Exploring Computer Science and Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles that are culturally relevant for Native American students, and especially designed to engage young women and two-spirit individuals.
  • At the 2020 Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) virtual conference in October, our CEO Dwana joined the Computing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions to announce the first cohort of Latina Student Scholars.
  • KIPP, the largest public charter school system in the US, encouraged gender-equal participation in its Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles (AP CS P) course. They recruited over 380 underrepresented girls of color to enroll in the 2019–2020 AP CS P course. Over 60% of Black, Latina, and Native American girls taking the exam passed with a score of 3 or higher.

And that’s just a small sample of the amazing work our grantees have undertaken. We look forward to partnering with our grantees further in 2021.

Participating in Conversations about Equity, Representation, and Inclusion

Across industries, people and organizations are discussing and evaluating their commitments to equity. Tech, computing, and higher education are no exception. As CEO of Reboot, Dwana Franklin-Davis participated in many conversations at events, at conferences, and in the news, offering her experiences as a Black technologist and sharing Reboot’s point of view on representation and inclusion.

  • This summer’s racial equity movement inspired Dwana to create the Dear Tech Companies blog series to provide specific, actionable strategies to companies looking to make the industry more accessible to women of color. We shared how Juneteenth can act as a commitment to the Black community and Dwana authored op-eds in Fast Company on how to center women of color in the future of work. Look out for more from Dwana in 2021 on how collective grantmaking can make an impact for women of color in tech.
  • As we all grappled with the many inequities highlighted by COVID-19, Dwana spoke to Forbes about how Reboot is addressing the related challenges of COVID-19 and racial injustice. We also collaborated with our tech equity partners to share strategies for prioritizing inclusion during virtual school and work from home, and Dwana authored an op-ed describing how COVID has made it harder for women of color to enter tech careers.
  • Shifting to virtual events didn’t stop us! From roundtables to panels to keynotes, Dwana spoke at over 25 events this year. In the company of Megan Rapinoe and Serena Williams, Dwana presented at the 2020 Grace Hopper conference and shared strategies for companies looking to strengthen diversity in tech. She’s ready for more in 2021.

2020 has kicked us into full gear, and our drive to increase representation will not slow down. We look forward to pushing the industry to continue to reflect on the events of 2020 and see them as an opportunity to be intentional and inclusive in their efforts to cultivate anti-racist workplaces. Reboot is proud to be an advocate for Black, Latina, and Native American women and work with companies to increase pathways and representation. 2021, we’re ready for you!

A coalition of tech companies committed to doubling the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women receiving computing degrees by 2025.