Kimberly Bryant is an award winning social entrepreneur, technology junkie, an engineer by trade and a native Memphian. She relocated to Silicon Valley and now she’s launched a program that’s rolling out across the country. That program, Black Girls Code, promotes teaching coding and development to young African American Girls.
Bryant describes the mission for Black Girls Code on her website as:
“to introduce programming and technology to a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.”
Like many others, Bryant believes there’s a “dearth” of African American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions. While some may say it’s because there’s a lack of interest, Bryant knows that it’s more like a lack of access and exposure to STEM topics. The Black Girls Code program is about making STEM topics accessible to African American girls and exposing them at a young age. It’s also done in such a way that it’s fun and positive.
Bryant has held programs through Black Girls Code in cities all over the country and some around the world. Black Girls Code has had events in San Francisco, Chicago, Oakland, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and even in Johannesburg. Her most recent event was this past Saturday in Atlanta where they taught kids how to develop their own apps using Google’s App Inventor.
Two of the girls that participated; Elechi (11) and Sobenna (8) Egwuekwe, came to speak on Sunday night at Memphis’ 48 Hour Launch for women event. Their father, Meka Eqwuekwe, who works for local web developer Lokian, has taken an active interest in the Black Girls Code program, and is helping to bring it to Memphis.
The Memphis Black Girls Code chapter will hold an Open House January 15th at Emerge Memphis, the local technology and startup incubator. Then, on February 16th the Memphis chapter will hold it’s first event.
Albeit a little shy, or possibly tired from the 6 hour drive back from Atlanta, both Elechi and Sobenna were glowing with excitement as their father explained the concept and program behind Black Girls Code and the events coming up.
When asked if they had fun, Elechi quickly responded by saying yes and then described the experience. Elechi told the audience of about 50 that she and her sister got to create their own app using the App Inventor platform. She was quick to point out that App Inventor is a Google product and that meant their first app was for the Android platform.
The app that the girls created was a photo app that allowed a user to add sound effects to a picture taken on an Android phone. Launch Your City’s Chief Brand Officer and the woman in charge of Upstart Memphis, and the 48 Hour Launch For Women, Elizabeth Lemmonds, was quick to point out to both young ladies that there was no age limit for Upstart and that next year she expected to see the two sisters pitching a startup at the 48 Hour Launch for women.