Every March, Women’s History Month is celebrated around the world, highlighting the contributions of women to history and contemporary society. And although we’ve made great strides in closing the gender gap in the workplace - women now make up 48% of the United States workforce - they form only 24% of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce. This statistic that has held constant for nearly a decade, even while this sector has been growing three times faster than average. These numbers mean that women are not fully participating in the tech boom – not starting companies, not building apps, not becoming millionaires and not having their voices heard at the same rate as men.
Why haven’t things changed?
Based on research to date, many women often cite uncomfortable classroom experiences and workplace climate. One company taking action is New York Life. Senior women from New York Life’s IT group have partnered with NPower’s Community Corps and the New York City Department of Education to sponsor a Tech Career Day for high school girls. Thirty young women from two Digital Ready High Schools, Academy of Innovative Technology (AOIT) and Bronx Academy of Software Engineering (BASE), will visit New York Life’s headquarters, interact with senior IT leaders, and see female IT leaders in action. Gaining real-world experience and conversing with women who are leaders in their organizations can counter stereotypes and free someone to achieve a fulfilling and transformative career.
You too can help young women pursue their dreams. Through our Community Corps program, we have connected to hundreds of nonprofits and education partners that are looking for talented professionals like you who want to help people achieve their potential. Be a role model, be a virtual awards judge or serve as a part-time communications manager for an after school tech program. Opportunities are out there. Won’t you join in? Find out more about our mentoring opportunities
Post by Rukia Jeffrey, Volunteer Coordinator, NPower
It was beautiful. It was tall. Thousands of peoples were in attendance on that joyous day nearly three years ago, to witness the opening of the MLK memorial that was 20 years in the making. I remember traveling four hours with my mom, only looking at it as a fun trip and not as a moment in history. Years later, as I reflect on that moment, I’m more appreciative and understanding as to why that occasion was so momentous and thankful to have witnessed it.
As we reflect on Dr. King’s teaching and service to which he dedicated his life, I realize the national observation of his birthday was created to be a ‘day on, not a day off’. He once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
Dr. King dedicated his life to service and fighting injustices for all. We don’t have to be on the frontline as he was, but we can live a purposeful life. One way to follow his example is to act as mentors and role models for this generations and generations to come. Many of us may have been inspired or influenced by one or more persons we consider to be mentors to our lives. So as National Mentoring Month continues, I believe the best thanks to Dr. King would be paying it forward.
From helping at youth robotic competitions to being a virtual mentor from the comfort of your own home, NPower has many skills-based volunteering opportunities through its program The Community Corps.
Women comprise around half the U.S. workforce, but just 24% work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. What’s more, 80% of the fastest growing occupations in our nation depend on STEM knowledge and skills.
We want to do something about this disparity. That’s why we’re a founding partner of Million Women Mentors, a national campaign led by STEMconnector® to increase the interest of one million young women in STEM careers by connecting them to one million mentors.
We’re calling corporations and tech-savvy professionals to get involved and volunteer to be mentors, as well as nonprofits that need mentors for the young women they serve. It’s simple to sign up through our skills-based volunteering website, The Community Corps, and find transformational STEM mentoring opportunities in a few clicks.
Regina Dombkowski is a young woman who experienced powerful career progression when NPower connected her to technology professional Joanna Durand, Managing Director and Global Program Management Head at Citi. Starting out in any industry without a job, connections or experience is tough for anyone. But with Joanna’s support throughout the job search, Regina was able to improve her resume, receive timely coaching for interviews and make new connections. “For people who’ve been in the business world for some time, it’s easy to underestimate how powerful their advice can be,” says Regina. “What’s second nature to them can bring incredible value to a mentee.” She believes that the support she received from Joanna was integral to successfully landing the prestigious role as Business Analyst in a tech division at Citi. Regina is now in a leadership development program and looking forward to a bright future.
Support more young women like Regina by registering for mentoring opportunities on NPower’s The Community Corps.
Women comprise 48% of the U.S. workforce, but just 24% are in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields – a statistic that has held constant for nearly a decade. We want to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to pursue and succeed in STEM careers, so we’re excited to announce our collaboration as lead partner in the Million Women Mentors initiative.
Launching today, Million Women Mentors is a national campaign led by STEMconnector® and driven by a unique group of nonprofits, corporations and government agencies. Its purpose is to increase the interest of one million young women in STEM by connecting them to one million mentors from related fields.
NPower and Accenture are both founding partners of Million Women Mentors, so we’re celebrating the Million Women Mentors launch with a Q&A with Cathinka Wahlstrom, Senior Managing Director and Head of Banking North America at Accenture. As a member of NPower’s Board of Directors, Cathinka is intimately involved in mentoring and championing women in tech. We invited her to share some words of wisdom.
Cathinka Wahlstrom (left) supporting Aminah Roberts at her graduation from NPower’s Technology Service Corps program last month
Q&A with Cathinka Wahlstrom
Q. What do you think has contributed to your professional success?
I’ve always strived to develop a career capital that is based on the ability to quickly adapt to change. It requires persistence to hone the right skills, deliver results for clients, and find the right mentors. Having a good network of mentors has also offered me the opportunity to learn from others who have different experiences than me.
Q. What advice do you give young people about building career capital?
Building career capital requires the ability to be flexible and take risks. People should also look for opportunities to stretch themselves through constant collaboration and networking within their company as well as in the community. I recommend raising your hand and say, “I want to help, “I want that job,” or “Give me a chance to contribute to the team.” Also, proactively seek mentors. They provide a great deal of guidance through your career journey and can sometimes provide suggestions for career paths that you may have not considered before.
Q. You have noted having the right skills and mentoring to be critical to career success. Can you elaborate?
A career can be challenging so it’s important to develop the right skills through training and experience. It’s also important to remember that a career is a continuous learning process. Always ask questions, and take on new challenges to grow your skill set, but find a mentor too. A mentor provides a valuable resource to help you focus and maintain perspective.
Q. Can you share how you got involved with NPower and what is your current role?
As a Board member, I know that NPower and Accenture share a common commitment to equip people with the skills necessary to succeed in technology careers through training and mentoring. That’s what makes our partnership so impactful.
Accenture is a founding member of NPower and we continue to be involved through their programs Technology Service Corps, The Community Corps, and through the Board and Advisory Councils. We are also excited to support the new mentoring and continuing education initiative for alumni of the Technology Service Corps, which builds brighter futures for underserved young adults and veterans through free technology and professional skills training. Accenture’s employees, including several who are Technology Service Corps alumni, are passionate about the organization and love volunteering. It’s inspiring to work with other business partners to move NPower’s mission forward and help thousands of people develop technology skills.
Q: What is something that excites you about technology careers right now?
Technology is changing at an unprecedented rate and the career opportunities are numerous – for women and men alike. As a result, NPower and Accenture have been active in promoting STEM education for girls and women. It’s exciting when you see a student find a passion for math, science and technology and realize she just found a promising career for herself.
Interested in becoming a mentor?
Sign up by registering at thecommunitycorps.org
This summer, NPower and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) teamed up to roll out a new program to broaden employee volunteerism and provide tech expertise to nonprofits across the United States.
TCS instills the importance of volunteering and social responsibility by incorporating volunteer projects into the onboarding process for new consultants. “TCS has a distinctive culture of volunteerism, and our employees play an active role in contributing to the development of the communities where we live and work. Partnering with NPower underscores our commitment to giving back to individuals, nonprofits and communities in need,” said Surya Kant, President, TCS North America, UK & Europe.
New consultants were assigned to teams to provide technical consulting services to nonprofit organizations. The teams met with the nonprofits on a weekly basis to understand their organizational needs and technical issues. Each TCS team created customized technical plans designed to address each nonprofits’ unique technical needs.
At the end of the project, 80 TCS consultants had advised over 20 nonprofits in topics ranging from how to upgrade servers and websites to the pros and cons of cloud based services. The projects had a profound effect on both the consultants and the nonprofits.
The consultants were able to gain real-world consulting experience and learn the importance of understanding client needs, as well the ability to take complex technical solutions and break them down into easily digestible pieces for non-technical audiences. “It feels rewarding to learn about the nonprofit and know how much you help,” said Travis Smith, a new consultant that participated in the program. “It’s a small impact on the world, but it means so much for the people we’re assisting.”
The nonprofits were thrilled to receive high quality technical consulting that is normally only accessible to larger, for-profit organizations. Susan Vilardo of the nonprofit Literacy Council of Brown and Clermont County said, “The team was willing to listen to the needs of our organization and heard, clearly, that the budget would not provide for much ‘wiggle’ room. They used their creative thinking, thought outside of the box and came up with ways to modify existing formats, working with what we already have and produced end results that were very attainable!”
We’re looking forward to next year, when our goal is to at least double the number of nonprofits served! If you’re a nonprofit interested in free consulting, contact NPower at firstname.lastname@example.org
Guest Post, Karen Graham, Director, Technology & Innovation, MAP
Imagine for a moment you’re the executive director of a small nonprofit anti-poverty organization. You’re expected to be an expert on poverty, management, accounting, law, human resources, facilities, HIPAA, the intricacies of county funding…and let’s not forget technology. You won’t have the resources most businesses take for granted. Unrestricted funding for technology planning, staff skill development, and hardware and software investments will be tough to find.
A volunteer can make a huge difference in this situation, by providing technical knowledge and skills, and increasing the organization’s capacity to do great work. But how do you determine the best sort of help to ask for?
Now imagine you’re the technology volunteer. What should you expect, walking into a nonprofit organization for the first time? How can you be successful, and really make a difference?
As someone who works with small (under $5 million/year) nonprofits day in and day out, I’d like to share four situations I’ve encountered, which typify the challenges small organizations have related to technology. Nonprofits might use this to help them create appropriate volunteer assignments and give the volunteers helpful background information. Volunteers might use these scenarios to assess the situation, then choose an appropriate approach to volunteering.
Great tools, no strategy
This organization has all the latest and greatest: a brand new server, a Drupal web site with interactive graphics, a fleet of iPads, and the best donor database money can buy. They got a grant to make these investments, and a board member who worked for [insert high tech company here] helped them set everything up. Now the board member’s term is up, the grant money is spent, and no one remembers the password to update the web site. The iPads are sitting in their boxes, because no one has had time to unpack them yet.
What does this organization need? They need to put someone in charge of technology, allow that person enough time to do the work, and allocate a budget for ongoing maintenance and service. Better yet, they need a technology plan that is aligned with their strategic goals, and includes appropriate investments. As a skilled IT volunteer, you can help them to research tools and devise a strategic technology plan. Make sure you are considering their ability to use and maintain technology based on their skill level, not yours, unless you are very committed to volunteering in the long term. You can also be their expert witness, when they seek funding for technology as an operating expense.
Picture a crowded office, books and papers pile to the ceiling, and nestled among them are mismatched, elderly computers. A few laptops are piled in a corner, covered with dust – gifts from a corporate patron. Those laptops aren’t usable, because they have old operating system that won’t run their database software. There’s a spare printer too; it just showed up on the doorstep one day, probably donated by some well-meaning soul. It might work if they can special-order the right ink cartridge.
What does this organization need? To put it bluntly, they need decent equipment, not cast-off junk. Every minute spent waiting for a machine to boot up is a minute not spent on more productive activities. As a volunteer, you can empower them to evaluate which gifts to accept and which to graciously decline, by setting office-wide standards on software versions, replacement schedules, and warranty and service plans. When they do receive useful donated equipment, help them set everything up (connect to networks, local printers, etc.) and get it running smoothly.
This organization is small and new, operating out of the founders’ home or a tiny office. Needless to say, there is no IT staff. Every spare penny of the small budget goes into the program, with nothing left for staff training and development. The founders and volunteers may be uninformed and inexperienced with technology, and therefore making a lot of bad decisions.
What does this organization need from its IT volunteer? Provide mentoring on basic skills, and a sounding board for technology decisions. Connect the organization with free resources, including practical guides, and urge them to adopt best practices.
Accidental Techie Hard at Work
This organization is small, with no formal IT staff members. But they have a creative and resourceful “accidental techie” who finds free tools and keeps them humming along.
What does this organization need from its IT volunteer? Offer mentoring and encouragement for the accidental techie, as well as advocacy for the training and support they need to succeed. Make sure the accidental techie is connected with great resources, like MAP’s TechWorks learning and networking program. And feed that culture of innovation. Some of the most innovative applications of technology we’ve seen are coming out of small nonprofits with a propensity for experimentation and rapid iteration.
Or, None of the Above
Don’t be surprised if you discover an organization where none of these scenarios apply. Lots of small nonprofits have a well-informed, strategic approach to technology.
What does this organization need from its IT volunteer? If you’re fortunate enough to find one of these organizations, you’ll probably be able to identify specific areas where you can bring added value. While you’re there, give them a pat on the back for a job well done!
Guest post by Erica Christensen, VP, Corporate Social Responsibility, CA Technologies
At CA Technologies, we don’t just help companies simplify and solve their most challenging IT issues. We also believe in helping to improve the quality of life in communities where our employees live and work worldwide. CA Together, our global Corporate Social Responsibility program, supports organizations, programs and initiatives that enrich the lives and well-being of others with a primary focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education.
That’s why we’re pleased to support NPower and their Technology Service Corps program, which builds brighter futures by delivering free IT and professional skills training for underserved young adults. We bolstered our support for this important work when our CEO, Mike Gregoire, recently joined NPower’s Board of Directors. And as part of our annual employee volunteer month in October, CA Together in Action, we hosted NPower’s Harlem and Brooklyn-based students for a career panel and lunch at our New York City office. The students participated in conversations focused around tech-related topics with a panel of CA Technologies employees, led by Trevor Bunker, Senior Vice President of our Global Presales organization.
NPower students talk with Trevor Bunker, SVP, Global Presales, CA Technologies (pictured standing), and Matthew Strazza, General Manager, Professional Services, CA Technologies
Since its inception in 2005, CA Together in Action has collectively provided support to more than 1,000 volunteer projects with approximately 45,000 hours of community service. Employees are able to use up to three work days each year to volunteer with organizations of their choice. Giving back in the communities where we live and work is an important part of our company’s culture. Year after year our participation numbers have continued to grow, demonstrating the commitment our employees have to giving back in their communities.
Together, we truly can make a difference.
Guest post by Kris Falvo, Regional Director, Dallas
Veteran’s day has always been meaningful to me. Perhaps it stems from me, as a little girl, watching my father stand at attention whenever the national anthem played. No matter the place or the situation, the beginning of the Super Bowl or at the start of my son’s Little League baseball game, my father, a Korean War veteran, would stand at attention. The special day of remembrance grew when I would see my husband’s old Air Force uniform as it hung in the closet. A Vietnam veteran, he was still proud to keep it with his other clothes, not putting it away like a distant memory. These events reminded me to give pause - to reflect on those who serve our country. More recently, Veterans Day allows me to honor my own son who served in the Marine’s Infantry during the Iraq war and was deployed three different times. As a mother of a Marine, Veteran’s Day is even more important. It reminds me that our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, wives and husbands are still engaged to secure our freedom.
This is why my joining NPower was so important to me. It was an opportunity to serve those who served all of us. NPower’s mission is to harness the power of the tech community to help nonprofits, schools and underserved individuals build tech skills. In Dallas, providing veterans with IT and career development training not only serves as a much needed antidote to the national shortage of STEM skills, but also provides support for the veterans who are leaving the military and returning to the civilian world.
Kris Falvo and son Phil Falvo, USMC
TSC Dallas Veterans Inaugural Graduate Class
This solution hits home with me. I witnessed my own son, coming home after four years in the military. He served his country for four years, learning to communicate and work in a military environment. After leaving the military, however, he was challenged to find training to live his life as a normal member of the civilian community. Of course, like many coming out of the military, he hit road blocks. However, he had his parents, who could provide him a place to live, pay for his education and work with him to find employment.
He’s lucky. Many do not have the same support system. Even so, he still struggled to adapt to the difference between military and civilian life.
I am passionate about NPower because it provides a holistic approach for veterans returning to civilian life. Our career development offers veterans like my son an opportunity to visit job sites, network with hiring managers, and learn how to communicate using “civilian language.” NPower takes veterans skill set and enhances it to fit the employment needs of our IT partners. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to giving back to those who have given so much.
As I celebrate Veterans Day, I reflect on my father standing at attention and my husband’s and son’s service. To all of our nation’s service men and women - for your dedication, service and sacrifice - I proudly salute you.
Guest post–MiriamYoung, The Community Corps
We had a great time on Wednesday celebrating Pro Bono Day NYC, hosted at the Social Centre for Innovation as part of Pro Bono Week 2013. Taproot Foundation and desigNYC organized the event with sponsorship from Citi Foundation as a way to showcase and celebrate New York City’s ever growing pro bono landscape.
We were thrilled to get to participate on two panels – “Using Technology to Accelerate Your Impact” and “How Fortune 500 Companies are Changing the Pro Bono Landscape in NYC.”
While there were so many great highlights from the event, we wanted to share our top 5:
Located in Chelsea, The Centre for Social Innovation is a wonderful new addition to New York - a coworking space/community center/incubator/fun event space for people and organizations that are changing the world. I personally loved the chandeliers, floor to ceiling windows and, yup, that’s a suspended canoe hanging from the ceiling for good measure. But this is also a place where serious work is getting done. I actually got to use one of the rooms to take a call before our panels started. I could see the concentration and energy of all the organizations working from shared tables, individuals tucked into small reading nooks with lap tops or groups brainstorming in workshop rooms. It was really a perfect home for an event like Pro Bono Day that’s designed to encourage more collaboration between disciplines and sectors in the pro bono movement.
2- Jake Porway from DataKind = the best
There were three panel discussions held during the day, convening a variety of wonderful speakers. I spoke on the Accelerating Impact panel designed to give best practices on engaging pro bono tech resources. I was also joined by one of The Community Corps’ rockstar volunteers, Barry Platzman, who’s completed several tech capacity building projects for nonprofits and schools. We fielded great audience questions on how to manage scope and how nonprofits can increase tech literacy before engaging a technology volunteer through great resources like NTEN and Idealware.
However, I gotta say, Jake Porway from DataKind is kinda the best. Jake was a fellow panelist and dazzled the audience with great examples of how they’re using data to change the world, helping organizations gain insight into their programs and their issue areas overall. (He also helped me when my mic immediately broke, doing a little pro bono tech support on the spot!) DataKind hosts regular meetups that sound amazing – we ran some regression analysis and it looks like we will 100% be there.
3-Real discussion, no really!
Our very own Corporate Engagement Director, Mary Ellen Sullivan, spoke on the panel, “How Fortune 500 Companies are Changing the Pro Bono Landscape in NYC,” sharing her expertise of working with NPower’s corporate network to engage hundreds of technology professionals globally in service. There were great insights and candid discussion from the corporate panelists, Monica Chaves from MasterCard, Meredith Hahn from American Express and Florencia Spangaro from Citi Foundation, who gave nonprofits a real look at how their companies approach employee volunteerism. The audience asked thoughtful questions on how companies are measuring success and impact and the moderator, Rob Acton from Taproot Foundation, even summarized a great list of tips for nonprofits looking to source pro bono support from. All in all, nice solid takeaways and a very authentic panel of CSR leaders!
4-The Deadly Carrots and a Rallying Speech
Aaron Hurst, Taproot Foundation Founder and now Imperative CEO, closed out the night’s programming with a rallying speech on how far the pro bono movement has come and how far it can go…and how we should all beware the deadly sharp carrots on the food table that somehow caused a papercut. Ouch! We wish you a speedy recovery, Aaron!
5-The Cool Kids
It was great to catch up with the latest from all of the fabulous pro bono providers in NYC! Let’s just say anybody who’s anybody who loves pro bono and volunteerism was there including DataKind, Catchafire, NetImpact, New York Cares, AMEX’s Serve 2gether Consulting, the 1%, Gray Matters and, of course, Taproot Foundation. This is the great and ever growing NYC pro bono landscape and we are honored to be a part of it.
Let the countdown begin for Pro Bono Day 2014!