Black Girls Code (BGC) put on something I’ve never witnessed before–a live coding and mentoring event! In partnership with Dropbox, a relationship that has thrived for over a year, BGC was able to pair 20 Black girls, ranging from ages 8-16, with 25 coding industry experts and mentors that they had never met before. This created a unique environment for mentors and mentees, allowing them each a chance to get out of their comfort zones, while simultaneously creating a lasting impact. Just like when we were kids, mentors were placed on one side of the room, mentees on the other. The girls found open computers and then the mentors went to them. Once introductions were out of the way, they were given one hour to complete a coding module.

Black Girls Code was founded in 2011 with the mission to get 1 million girls coding by 2040. If that seems like an ambitious goal, it is, but BGC is well on its way! With its headquarters in Oakland, BGC currently has programs in about 13 cities in the states and 1 abroad in South Africa. They see no plans of slowing down anytime soon, and 2018 will surely play a big role in expansion. Their programs include back to school events, after-school coding clubs, coding workshops, and parental trainings on preparation for high school and collegiate coding.

As I observed this incredible event, I overheard mentors encourage students through their stumbling blocks, while sharing their own lessons learned through their coding tenure. I also heard mentors provide transparent, real-world examples of what day to day life in the career tech space involves. I watched a parent get a crash course in coding from an honorary guest, one of the mentor’s sons.

It was so encouraging to watch these young Black girls do their thing at this coding event! As someone who has had no experience with coding, seeing these brilliant, eager, and talented minds work was something I cannot quite put into words. It warmed my heart to be a part of this event, and I felt so very proud of every young girl in the room!

Even if you, like me, have no experience coding, that’s ok! Black Girls Code needs volunteers of all sorts! Check out their website here: http://www.blackgirlscode.com/ for ways you can get involved or sign your very own Black girl genius up for events and experiences!

Keep shining Black girl coding wonders! Keep shining!

**All photos by Robert Bennett, Dropbox