For young girls of color, the distance between first getting interested in computers and eventually landing a job in tech is long and marked with exit ramps.
Nonprofit Black Girls Code and search giant Google are hoping to shorten the distance between that initial spark and an actual job by putting coding students in the same building as Google's New York office.
On Wednesday, Black Girls Code and Google will launch the new space inside Google's building in Manhattan. Google bought the building in 2010. The space, valued around $2.8 million, is a gift from Google. The idea: By sharing the same space as Google, Black Girls Code will be able to introduce more students to more tech companies, and also attract volunteers and mentors.
"We need a tech sector that looks like the society it serves, and groups like Black Girls CODE are ensuring that we can cultivate and access talent in communities of color," said Google's Head of External Affairs, William Floyd.
Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, said Google has hosted many student workshops in its New York office. This partnership will allow the nonprofit to build a permanent teaching space. It's also another way for Google to invest in a pipeline of future talent.
"They're able to influence these girls that Google is a company they might want to come work for once they graduate," Bryant said.
Black Girls Code was founded in 2011 with the goal of training 1 million girls by 2040. The focus also includes making sure those girls have the range of skills they'll need as technology spreads across all aspects of life. But providing tech education to minority children has its own set of challenges.
"If you look specifically at students of color, and even more specifically at girls from African-American, Latina and Native American communities, it's important to reach them before they get to high school," Bryant said.
Georgia Tech last year found that, across 23 states, fewer than 10 African-American students took the Advanced Placement computer science exam. That year, African-American women made up about 3 percent of the nation's computing workforce, according to the National Association for Women and Information Technology.
There are plenty of other programs that aim to get kids into coding. Code.org, launches its Hour of Code campaign every year to bring attention to computer science. Girls Who Code has the mission of closing the gender gap in tech. Baltimore's Digital Harbor Foundation uses workshops and after-school programs to connect the well-paid tech industry with local communities that are struggling economically.
Bryant hopes the partnership with Google will lead to many more between tech and nonprofits.
"Pooling our resources together in a very organic, holistic way allows us to make even more impact in terms of increasing diversity in the industry," she said.
Black Girls Code serves about 1,000 girls in the New York area. Bryant hopes that, thanks to Google, it can double or triple that in the next few years.
Updated at 7:26 p.m. ET: Adds comments from Google.