What is the Digital Divide?
Inadequate access to technology can hinder children from learning the tech skills that are crucial to success in today’s economy and put them at a distinct disadvantage. The highest-paying jobs for the coming generation will be in technology or will require the use of technology in a meaningful way. Within the technology industry, there is a significant lack of diversity in comparison to the population as a whole.
What’s most disconcerting is that the percentage of women and minorities in technology (compared to the distribution in the overall population) has actually been declining since the mid-80s, per sources such as NPR, Wired, and U.S. News.
By working to bridge the digital divide we hope to level the playing field by providing access to technology, education, and mentorship to those that may not otherwise have it and to increase diversity in the technology industry as a whole.
What We’re Doing to Bridge the Digital Divide
WillowTree’s Community Outreach program supports local organizations and events that work with youth from underrepresented groups with a focus on technology. The goal is to help these youth envision their future in tech by exposing them to new technologies and the wide variety of careers that exist. WillowTree engages in community outreach through school visits, office tours, volunteering in the community, and facilitating curated activities with local organizations.
In order to have the greatest impact on our communities, each office focuses most of their efforts toward an organization that aligns with our mission. The respective organizations that are partners for each office are:
C4K combines mentoring and technology to prepare youth for brighter futures. The organization provides mentoring in a creative, safe, and supportive out-of-school learning environment, access to professional-grade technology, project-based learning, and youth leadership opportunities
EDCI creates a pipeline of high-quality services from birth through high school graduation for children and families living in a 120-block area of East Durham, with a vision to create a future where every child in East Durham successfully graduates from high school, ready for college or a career.
Columbus: Godman Guild
Through workforce development and youth programming, the Godman Guild provides programs that enhance the social and economic mobility of individuals and families in Central Ohio.
New York City: Code Nation
Code Nation equips students in under-resourced high schools with the skills, experiences, and connections that together create access to careers in technology. With a volunteer teaching corps of 300 technology professionals and a powerful network of school and company partners, Code Nation ensures that students leave the programs career-ready, with a holistic set of skills, competencies, and resources that set them up for success.
The Whitney French Digital Design Scholarship
Whitney French, who was a Senior Product Designer at WillowTree and an inspiration to everyone she touched, passed away suddenly in 2017. She was incredibly passionate about giving more women the opportunity to make an impact in digital design and supporting their education and development. In Whitney’s honor, WillowTree created an annual scholarship that supports women in the field of digital user experience and design.
In 2017, WillowTree joined the Pledge 1% network, a national coalition of companies dedicated to doing well by doing good. As part of our commitment, WillowTree will be working to provide our world class digital services to leading charities and non-profits at substantially reduced costs.
About the Pledge 1% network
Pledge 1% is a global movement to create a new normal where giving back is integrated into the DNA of companies of all sizes. Pledge 1% encourages and challenges founders and companies to pledge 1% of equity, profit, product, and/or time to causes of their choosing. Over 3,000 companies in 80 countries have joined the movement, including Twilio, Glassdoor, Box, Yelp, General Assembly, Docusign, Salesforce, Atlassian, Techstars, and now WillowTree.
The Fight Against Racial Injustice
WillowTree is committed to taking action to be a part of the solution for racial injustice. In June of 2020, WillowTree began a donation matching initiative, matching donations of up to $250 per team member up to $10,000, and $150 per team member from $10,000 to $15,000.
In collaboration with the Trees of Color employee resource group, we identified and supported in the following organizations through this initiative:
- Black Vision Collective
- Reclaim the Block
- ACLU Nationwide
- Campaign Zero
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- NAACP Legal Fund
- RVA Bail Fund
- Innocence Project
- United Negro College Fund
- Black Girls Code
- And more
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about WillowTree’s Social Impact Program.