Kennan Scott was a teacher at West Oakland Middle School before assuming his current role at Bitwise Industries. In his column, “A Letter to Oakland,” he discusses his efforts to show students how to be the change in their communities—and change the city at the same time. He started his mission the first time he brought students across a “not-so-imaginary line over the bridge across the 980.”
“So many of my students had never moved past this small stretch of highway that separates West Oakland from the opportunities downtown and the rest of the city,” he writes. This became his life and work mission: to ensure people from all sides of the city have the same opportunities.
Now he works at Bitwise, with a collective mission to build a “tech ecosystem” that provides training, internships, and job opportunities with local software companies and breaks down the barriers for Black and Brown communities.
The Bay Area has one of the highest levels of inequality in the tech industry of any region in the country, according to the National Equity Atlas. Black and Hispanic workers—and women—are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce compared with their share of all workers, reported Rick Fry, Brian Kennedy, and Cary Fund in a Pew Research study.
The Ed Fund is proud to be at the forefront of creating technological equity in Oakland, starting in our schools.”
The Ed Fund is proud to be at the forefront of creating technological equity in Oakland, starting in our schools. The TechLink Program for high school juniors and seniors targets students of color and girls and is our collaborative effort with the community to expand the opportunities available to our youth and increase diversity in the tech industry through meaningful mentorship and a Summer Fellowship experience.
TechLink student participants complete the Computer Science & Technology or Engineering Pathway and graduate on time; receive support from a TechLink mentor; come away with a broader understanding of STEM careers available to them, preparing them to pursue a post-secondary education or career in STEM. The Summer Fellowship is a paid 6-week experience that combines advanced coding coursework with job shadowing and visits to companies across the tech sector.
Of course, we can’t have any of these programs without support from the community and corporate partners like Intel, our Adopt an Oakland School corporate partners Dropbox, New Relic, Salesforce, Berkeley Labs, and Pixar. Their employees volunteer at our Heritage Week Read-Ins, offer career panels, host student field trips, and provide other opportunities that inspire students to explore futures in tech. Our partner Girl Geek X connects women in all aspects of the tech industry—and volunteers encourage girls to explore and develop their STEM interests and skills.
Together, we’re setting the stage for Oakland to be a model of tech equity for the entire country—and the Ed Fund will be there every step of the way!
-Ali Medina, Executive Director