Okay, let’s get real, y’all.
Tech and startups and software that eats the world is great. Awesome companies change the world (or at least make their founders and investors a lot of money) and create jobs. They also make life easier, better, and faster for people everywhere.
Except, when they don’t. Because, let’s be honest, most of the “problems” we’re solving in the tech world are first world, urban problems.
And, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. We write about apps and car services and online shopping here at Nibletz because we love it as much as you do, and we believe that startups can innovate in a lot of great industries. But there’s a segment of the American population that is getting completely left behind in the startup race, and all it would take to fix it is a little education.
Jenn Shaw knows all about rural life in America. She’s lived for several years in New York City, doing the city life/big job thing, but she grew up in Alliance, Nebraska. As Jenn grew in her own career, and helped others grow in theirs, she realized that the women she had known growing up were leading vastly different lives from the one she knew.
Statistically, education in rural America can’t match that found in suburban and urban areas. Without real college or job prospects, most girls get married young and have families. The need to provide for their children means less money for their own education and fewer opportunities to advance in the world outside of their hometowns.
While plenty of people choose rural life, just as many are actually stuck there because they often don’t know what else is out there.
Armed with that knowledge, plus her background in building networks with NYTechWomen, Jenn created Bella Minds. Bella Minds is a network of hands-on education centers outside of traditional urban areas. The idea is to go into a city and hold a boot camp that will introduce a group of women to the tech world and the skills they’ll need to survive in it.
After the initial boot camp, the women will stay connected with online instruction, mentors, and community. At the end of the program, the women will not only have an understanding of the tech world, they will also have the mentors and some of the skills they’ll need to navigate it.
Bella Minds specifically helps rural women, but Jenn sees her programs as a huge win for the tech industry as a whole.
“We need more women in tech,” she told me over the phone, “but we also need more people in tech.”