Why This Nonprofit Trying to Close the Racial Tech Gap Is Pulling in the Grants

After receiving an initial grant in 2014 from the Knight News Challenge Awards, CODE2040 is getting a new grant of $1.2 million dollars from Knight to expand its programs that address the racial tech gap.

This grant comes along at a time when the digital realm's inclusion gaps are receiving more attention from funders, although racial equity has been on the radar for the Knight Foundation for many years.

Related: The Money Behind a Push to Bolster Black Male Leaders Across the U.S.

With the growing influence of technology on media, journalism, and the creative arts, three of Knight's main areas of focus, it makes sense that the foundation would invest in improving equity in the technology sector. (As an aside, a recent study argues that the Knight Foundation could do a better job of articulating its goals and strategies on equity.)

CODE2040 describes itself as creating "programs that increase the representation of Blacks and Latino/as in the innovation economy." While the organization is only three years old, it has ramped up operations very quickly, going from five fellows in the first class to 80 fellows at over forty different companies this year.

That growth underscores the depth of concern and interest around diversity in tech right now, as we've been reporting. While many funders come to this space because of an equity agenda, othersparticularly corporate fundersare keen to ensure that tomorrow's diverse labor force is well skilled. Closing the racial tech gap is about fairness, but also the bottom line—which is always a winning combination. CODE2040 is a great example of an organization with the right mission at the right moment. 

Now, with the new grant from Knight, CODE2040 can reach more students and help them advance their technical skills for employment in the tech industry.

Knight is not the only funder providing large grant support to CODE2040. In February of 2015, Google also gave the nonprofit $775,000 for a residency program that is partnering with tech hubs in Durham, Austin, and Chicago to support black and Latino entrepreneurs. The participants in this residency program receive free office space, $40,000 in seed funding for their business start-up, and a trip to Google headquarters. Participants also receive mentoring through Google for Entrepreneurs.

While Google and Knight are CODE2040's flagship supporters, it has a long list of other significant supporters, including PwC, Groupon, and AirBnB. Many of the other supporters of this new nonprofit appear to be smaller tech firms that are hoping to make it big in the tech world.