Dear Technovation Community,
The past two weeks have been a rollercoaster of emotions. Racism and police violence are not new or anomalies, but instead deeply embedded in our social fabric. As a global education organization committed to supporting and empowering underserved communities to be problem solvers and lifelong learners, the last two weeks have pushed us to re-examine how well we live up to our commitment. The recent events are a serious reminder for us to continuously learn and improve ourselves—especially in regards to how we address and further social justice. Without debate or question, Black Lives Matter.
As a small start in what needs to be continuous action, we are using our social platform to elevate, support, and give space to Black voices and calls for equity. In the regular course of our work, our team is listening to members of our community. As an organization, we came together to reflect, evaluate, and scrutinize whether we are doing all that we can to ensure an equitable future for Black communities and other groups worldwide who are particularly vulnerable to systemic racism and violence. We concluded that we aren’t.
We have created programs that we say are equitable for marginalized groups, but in actuality, these programs fall short: Our scoring rubric emphasizes technical acumen more than working to solve deeply entrenched problems, and we assume that there are volunteer champions in local communities with the time and capacity to support participants.
As individuals, and as an organization, we must do better. When we fall short, we need to understand where and how we fail to meet our goal, create a plan to improve, and then put every effort into actively improving.
Moving forward, we commit to do better for Black individuals as well as all marginalized communities and our international partners.
We have identified several areas where Technovation can better serve Black communities and marginalized groups over the next 12 months and beyond:
- Amplify the voices of members of our community fighting for social justice. While only 16 teams/families in our programs make it to finals each year, thousands more develop solutions to critical issues all over the world. For example, there’s “Live my Life”, an immersive game that educates users on various experiences unique to age groups, gender, religion or race in school, the workplace and other everyday living. “UNLEARN” is a game that helps students and teachers learn about and combat their own unconscious bias. “Black Magic” is an app that tries to simulate real world situations surrounding rape, abuse, and police brutality through story telling. Across our communication channels, we will do a better job highlighting more ideas like these by Black participants and other marginalized communities worldwide.
- Form a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force to guarantee action and accountability. The task force will ensure we uphold the promises stated in our diversity equity and inclusion statement. It will also hold us accountable to maintaining equity in our programs and our hiring practices, and in ensuring our data is used and stored in a safe, ethical way. The DEI Task Force will comprise leadership team members, internal team members, our board, and members of our global community, and we will publicly share findings and actions every quarter.
Our Task Force will further explore the following issues :
- How we measure our impact. We will be more intentional in how we incorporate and track DEI metrics to better understand how we support and impact Black and other marginalized communities.
- Sensitivity and DEI training for volunteers. Whether supporting participants through the program or reviewing submissions, we want our volunteers to exhibit empathy and a true understanding of equity as they assess students’ ideas and consider the unique social, emotional, and environmental factors that influenced them, in addition to their technical merit. We also commit to re-evaluating our program rubrics and other program resources to ensure they value efforts to enact deep social change as much as technical achievement.
- Enhance the resources and support available to our participants and alumni. Our program requires a lot of time and dedication from participants. After completing our program, students and families deserve the same time, energy, and support from us. We will work more intentionally to create and strengthen alumni resources (such as training, technical support and mentoring) so they are what alumni want and need to take their ideas further, and continue to deepen their skills and learning.
Through our social media platforms and influence, we will continue to share, highlight and celebrate Black individuals and organizations demanding change.
As we push and champion change in our communities, the world, and our organization, we will probably stumble and fall. But we will hold fast to our commitment to learn, process, grow and evolve to ensure an equitable and just future.
CEO & Founder, Technovation