MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Sabrina Tucker-Barrett, President and Chief Executive Officer of Girls For Technology in June 2018. (Read the interview: Girls For Technology Encourages STEM, Entrepreneurship). Since then, the startup has achieved some significant accolades. Sabrina reached out to Nan to provide some updates.
NAN PRICE: What’s new since we last talked?
SABRINA TUCKER-BARRETT: Things are going well, and we have a lot going on. I always feel like I’m on a rollercoaster!
We’re gearing up for our upcoming inaugural gala, The Future is Now, which will take place Friday, November 15 with proceeds supporting our programming. We’re excited to have Jasmine Lawrence as our keynote speaker. She’s a Facebook Engineer and entrepreneur and has an encouraging message to share.
We’ve also been forming collaborations and launching some new initiatives, including SparkHart, an annual immersive hackathon we formed in partnership with InfoSys. The event, which engages up to 100 diverse youth in Hartford, will take place during Computer Science Education Week in December.
In the first quarter of 2020, we’ll be launching Pipeline 4.0, a high-tech career pre-apprenticeship workforce development program that provides training, support services, and career navigation assistance for young adults ages 18 to 24.
We’ve accomplished a lot in the past year, too. In May 2019, a team of students from Girls for Technology participated in a Facebook’s Engineer for the Week challenge called “Chatbot for Change.” The girls created Eboni, an artificial intelligence-based virtual adviser for young black professionals. Last October, representatives from Facebook came to Hartford to meet our team. Girls For Technology was the only girl-serving organization in the east coast visited by Facebook. Of the 20 competing teams, our team made it to the final round of the competition and won the Social Impact Event, which was one of four awards presented. It was a powerful opportunity to show the girls how hard work and dedication can pay off.
In other news, Girls For Technology has formed partnerships with the University of St. Joseph. It’s being funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls in Greater Hartford. Every other Saturday, St. Joseph’s faculty and students are on campus teaching middle and high school girls about virtual reality, augmented reality, and gaming. We’ve also had female community leaders come in and speak to the girls about college, careers, and readiness, including Carrianne Polo, Founder of New Park Creative; Nicole Wagner, CEO of LambdaVision, an engineer from Lockheed Martin, and you!
NAN: We talked about the importance of mentoring in your first interview.
SABRINA: Mentorship is huge. It’s helpful for the girls to see professionals in the workforce who are relatable. It gives them aspirations and helps build their self-confidence.
NAN: What does Girls For Technology need moving forward?
SABRINA: More community involvement to expose youth to emerging technologies at a young age. In addition, I would love to see more corporations/companies stepping up to not only understand, but to take measurable action to ensure they’re working diligently to improve and retain a diverse talent pool of women and people of color. It’s hard to see yourself growing in a company when you don’t see yourself represented. This brings innovation to businesses and companies succeed. The risk of overlooking diversity in the workplace can be detrimental and can affect all aspects of business.
In terms of what Girls For Technology needs moving forward, I would also emphasize that we’re looking to expand our board development. We’re looking for people to step up and join our board. Right now, we have about five including an attorney, someone from the financial sector, and someone in the healthcare insurance industry.
We’d like to diversify to add more perspectives. More specifically, we could add some men and someone from education or the real estate industry. We’re also looking for seasoned people who have board experience.
NAN: You mentioned a couple of future goals. What else is next for Girls For Technology?
SABRINA: It’s exciting to see the business growing. It’s even more exciting to see it making a difference in young girls’ lives. We’re hoping to scale the organization across the state and increase awareness of our programming and initiatives.