Last week when we talked to one of Shine’s co-founders, Marah Lidey, we spoke about increasing diversity in tech.
With Google opening their Howard West campus, Uber taking flak for its lack of diversity and Hired showing just how uniform tech is with hard data, we wondered what she thought could be done to improve things.
“Talking about it is important,” Lidey said, “And that’s not enough, obviously, but it’s really something that needs to be emphasized because there’s still a lot of people who don’t want to talk about it.”
She also said, “Allies are really important, and allies meaning not just men, but also women who aren’t women of color just making sure they’re representing and talking about this issue.”
It turns out that a new ally who does want to talk about the issue has emerged: none other than Ne-Yo himself.
Being an engineer, Ne-Yo told Business Insider recently, “Is not a realistic career for people who came up like me. It’s more realistic to do what I do, be a singer or an NBA star.”
To change that, the artist has invested $2.3 million in Holberton School, and has joined its board.
Holberton is a coding school, that unlike other coding academies, does not charge tuition. Instead, its students learn to code for no-upfront cost, after agreeing to give the school 17% of their salary for three years after they get a job.
Holberton’s curriculum is also not as compact as that of many of its rivals — rather than learning to code in intense but brief bootcamps, Holberton students are expected to attend class for two years.
“I just love the fact of what they’re doing with the school,” Ne-Yo told Tech Crunch, “They’re making it easier for underrepresented people in the world of tech. They’re giving them a platform and access to this knowledge that they probably wouldn’t get otherwise.”
The Holberton approach seems to be working well in that regard. 40 percent of its current class are women, and 53 percent are people of color.
Ne-Yo said that he hopes his influence can push those numbers even higher. “I’m definitely going to be hands on … this is not, ‘Oh, let me attach my name to something.’ This is something that I’m genuinely passionate about.”
“Tech is changing by the second, so it makes sense to get the people that live in the world to be part of this thing that’s changing it, as opposed to just this one group of people.”
Preach, Ne-Yo, preach.