62 women attended the first RailsBridge workshop in June 2009. In the less than six months, the workshops transformed the San Francisco Ruby meetup from 2% to 18% women. Bridge Foundry has expanded outreach to communities with even greater underrepresentation in tech, as well as expanding to more technologies.
Bridge Foundry was instrumental in the creation of the learn to code movement. In over 80 cities around the world, volunteers have organized and taught workshops based on our open source curricula and teaching techniques.
Bridge Foundry’s key differentiator from other tech training initiatives is its focus on training repeat participants as teachers. As teachers/leaders, Bridge Foundry volunteers learn to catch and correct disrespectful behavior in human interaction, along with gaps in technical understanding. While the focus is on technical skill development, we also see that these leadership skills also contribute to workplace transformation by creating change agents within the tech industry.
“Running workshops shaped me to become a better mentor and trainer at work.”
— Volunteer Teacher
Bridge Foundry partners with tech companies that host workshops, where they offer space and staff who get involved as volunteers. Expert programmers volunteer and find that they improve their technical skills as well as their communication skills. Volunteers learn from each other and from students who have work experience in different domains or different technologies.
This collaboration create a strong professional network, helping companies recruit the best talent, while new and experienced software developers get to know the companies that foster a postivie, collaborative working environment.
Everything we do is open source and replicable by volunteers who can act independently to create positive change in their communities. Our free workshops typically have waitlists, so we encourage anyone to replicate the events.
There's no need to ask permission if someone wants to create an event to teach other people technical skills. We ask only that you offer the event at no cost to students, follow our code of conduct, and do outreach to underserved individuals. Please use our online registration website which will ensure that all participants review the code of conduct before signing up.
Volunteers have the freedom to act independently, and we are stronger together and we want to help. We encourage people to volunteer first at one of our events to learn from more experienced organizers and teachers. We have curricula for many different technologies and a network of volunteers who will mentor new organizers and often will be able to connect you to other Volunteers in your area.
We think of new initiatives and events like the old folktale about stone soup. A brave and passionate volunteer wants to make their community more inclusive and welcoming or build a new community that will help them learn a new skill and we help find others who will make that happen or simply provide information about what has worked before and cheer them on!
Most volunteer activities are focused on coding and leveling up in tech, and there is plenty of high impact work for people with a wide range of skills and interests. We need more folks willing to write words, create images, conduct research, and develop materials about effective teaching and positive conflict resolution. Of course, there are opportunities to write code too.
If you see something in our documentation that needs improvement, fork it on github and send a pull request or just dive in and edit the wiki. Don't know what a wiki is? New to open source? No worries, we've all been there... and we totally need your help.
There is so much to do, so much to learn, and so many people who might benefit from what you know.
We provide grants for workshop organizers in remote locations and support many initiatives to create more diverse and inclusive tech culture.
Financial support allows us to amplify the work of volunteers. The work you do is the most important thing, but money can help too :)