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In an effort to clean up its image and help Silicon Valley’s diversity issues, Uber has begun donating to several women in tech organizations. However, the money, while desperately needed, isn’t necessarily welcome, given Uber’s history.
Last week Uber announced it would gift one particular organization, Girls Who Code, with a $1.2 million grant. It would help Girls Who Code reach 60,000 more young women. It’s already taught 40,000 through various clubs and summer programs. As part of the donation, Uber employees would also volunteer at coding workshops and as mentors. Uber’s chief brand officer, former Apple executive Bozoma Saint John, also recently joined GWC’s board of directors. In March, the ride-hailing company pledged to donate $3 million over the next three years to organizations aiding diversity in tech.
Not all appreciated Uber’s move, though. Susan Fowler, whose frank blog post exposing sexual harassment at the startup has since rocked the tech industry (and its sexism and bro culture), was especially vocal. She tweeted that Uber should instead be helping former employees who were harassed or discriminated against.
I'm sure HR can give you a list of the employees who attempted suicide, the ones who committed suicide, and the ones who were hospitalized.— Susan J. Fowler (@susanthesquark) August 24, 2017
As it turns out, Uber also offered a smaller $125,000 donation to another organization, Black Girls Code. Black Girls Code, however, turned the donation down.
Black Girls Code is an organization that aims to teach young women of color programming and technology skills. Launched in 2011, it holds a number of events and hackathons, primarily in the San Francisco area and New York City.
Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant told TechCrunch that the donation “seems a bit tone-deaf to really addressing real change in how they are moving towards both inclusion and equity.” She also believed the act to be more PR driven than “actually focused on real change,” so they decided not to accept it.
When news of Bryant’s refusal went public, folks on social media stepped up to the fill the hole Uber’s donation left. On Sunday, Black Girls Code ended up reaching more than $125,000 in crowd-funded donations.
This is groundbreaking because it's ALSO an example of how community can disrupt the NPO funding model. https://t.co/8kO3nc1bUi— Johanne Sterling (@elektricclady) August 28, 2017
Some more good feels for your Monday: On top of merely reaching that funding goal, Black Girls Code also achieved it in under 24 hours.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.