‘ManCode Mentoring’ Initiative Helps Black Teens Build Computer Technology Skills Through Mentoring

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The 12-week program teaches young men how technology can be an option in their career or life journey.

“It’s fun,” says eighth grader Wilson Johnson. “I mainly like coding and learning different ways of life.”

Johnson is one of dozens of teenagers learning the ins and outs of computer technology alongside industry professionals.

This is all part of the new pilot program called “ManCode Mentoring”.

“The ManCode mentorship started when a few Microsoft employees kind of remarked, ‘hey, we’re not many in this area, what can we do,'” says Quanda Arch, program manager for the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center in north Minneapolis.” We are also in this state of reimagining and what COVID-19 has taught us is that there is a digital divide.”

Arch says one of the architects of the ManCode mentorship program is from the Twin Cities, but due to COVID-19 the program has changed from an in-person conference to an online conference offering free sessions for young black men aged 12 to 17.

“Because I’m active in my fraternity, we already volunteer at Phyllis Wheatley and because I was working with Quanda, they mentioned ManCode,” says James Johnson, III, who has a son in the program.

According to the International Game Developers Association, 81% of game developers worldwide identify as white, while only 2% identify as black.

The recent to study also found that “more diversity in game content” was a most important topic for the growth and success of the industry.

“That’s the beauty of it,” says Arch. “You think you’re just acting, but you can actually create and voiceover and code, and those are real careers.”

Although the program is still evolving, Arch says they hope to continue expanding it this year. “The plan is to have more cohorts throughout this year, and of course we’re going to do a female version,” she says.

Sessions take place on Saturdays and run until March 6. Each participant will also receive a $100 investment account incentive.

If you want to know more about the program, follow the link.

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