For Such a Time as This

For 20 years, Techbridge Girls has fought for girls who are often overlooked, undervalued, and underestimated. We have seen the brilliance and the power of our girls — the majority of whom are black and brown and living in economic insecurity — and have watched them bring social change in their communities and within our world. We are not just training the next generation of engineers, but we are empowering activists who become changemakers.

This moment, as unsettling, unconscionable, and unjust that it is, is also a time for our girls to use their voice and for our wider community to stand up for what’s right. It does not surprise us that our communities have said enough is enough. It’s not a surprise that Black people are considered less than or not worthy of fairness, good education, or the economic opportunity that a STEM career can provide. This is what we have been fighting for the last 20 years and we have designed our programs with a holistic approach to help our girls navigate the barriers that they will indeed encounter along their career and personal journeys. And now, this moment in American history has forced the rest of the world not to turn a blind eye to what we see, hear, and experience on a daily basis.

To our Nonprofit Leadership and Frontline Way Makers

You work tirelessly, often overlooking your own self-care, to provide hope, support, validation, and resources to Black communities across the country, especially those led by Black women and men. And you do the impossible, with limited resources and infrastructure. My prayer is that you take care of yourself, and get the support you need to unleash your full power and to do the work that we know is critical but not always funded or paid attention to.

To our Girls

You are brilliant, powerful, valued, loved, and not alone! Don’t let this moment deflate you, but let it embolden you because your voice is needed more than ever. Young people have been at the forefront of social movements throughout history. You were made to lead for such a time as this.

To our Allies

To our White and Asian allies (who make up the majority of the STEM industry), we ask you to do your work, listen, use your voice, and act when you witness injustice, unequal practices, or microaggressions in your workplace and personal circles. Donate to Black-led nonprofits that are working in black and brown communities to create social change and equal opportunities. Have courage. Don’t let fear hold you back from being the first to speak up, or more importantly, the first to act.

To our Community

Most importantly, our hearts cry and our blood boils for the disproportion of COVID-19 deaths in our Black communities, the “Amy Coopers” that agitate our everyday reality, the attack on Iyanna Dior, murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, and thousands of lives that were senselessly lost, discriminated against, and treated as less than throughout our history. Techbridge Girls joins in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter, #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd, and any movement that will address and dismantle the systemic and structural racism that this country was built on. Only together will we overcome.

To our Peers

We understand social justice work is a marathon. We were never just doing this work in the name of STEM. As advocates for the most vulnerable communities, we have to self-care, feel and acknowledge our pain, frustration, sadness and anger all the way through. That’s why right now, Techbridge Girls are taking care of each other. Our staff comprises over 70% of people of color (majority women); 4 out of 5 of our leaders are women of color; and our offices are located in the heart of many protests (Oakland, Seattle, D.C), as well as the hotbeds of COVID-19. We are focusing on loving each other, creating a place of safety, and ensuring we pause to recognize one another’s fears, pain, and anger, while finding space for us to have dialog or even silence. We do this so we can stay ready to keep doing what we have been doing for 20 years: championing equity in STEM education and creating more economic opportunities for every girl, no matter her race, ethnicity, or economic status.

As we rise out of these ashes of despair, my hope is that we truly can move toward addressing the systemic and structural issues that are preventing our girls from living their lives to their greatest potential. Our next chapter as an organization will address this head-on and I am calling on all my fellow STEM providers to partner with us as we embark on this next phase of work. We can no longer just say we are serving underrepresented communities; we must do the deep, and often tough work to take down the systemic and structural barriers that are facing our communities.

Lastly, as a Black woman, and mother of a son, sometimes I am not sure where I will get the strength to fight another day. But then I remember the strengths of my ancestors like Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Shirley Chisholm, who saw great despair and pain but still showed up with their amazing power, humility, courage, and a continued sense of hope. I stand on their glory to get me through these moments.

I encourage every person to pull from the strengths of those who have marched before us and do whatever you can to help lift us out of this moment, and to create a more just and equitable world for our girls, because they deserve nothing less.

In solidarity,

Nikole Collins-Puri

CEO, Techbridge Girls

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