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Kapor Center: Fostering Oakland's Tech Talent

Aparajitha Vadlamannati

Kapor Center: Fostering Oakland's Tech Talent's Image

Fostering Oakland's Tech Talent: An Interview with Kapor Center's Tiffany Price

Hack Reactor and the Kapor Center for Social Impact are expanding access to our Software Engineering bootcamp offering a full tuition scholarship to one Oakland resident who identifies as Black or Latinx.

To expand awareness about why we’re offering this scholarship, we sat down with Community Engagement Manager, Tiffany Price, who dropped game about the Kapor Center, diversity in tech, and how to best prepare to apply for the scholarship.

1. What is the Kapor Center, and what is your role at the organization?

The Kapor Center is a family of organizations that is focused on helping underrepresented folks in tech get access to tech careers. This encompasses everything from "STEM to startup".

Our organizations consist of:

  1. The Level Playing Field Institute, which provides access to STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, & careers for underrepresented high school students,

  2. Kapor Capital, which provides early seed-stage funding to tech startups that are gap-closing for underrepresented communities and have a commitment to diverse leadership, and

  3. Kapor Center for Social Impact, which is largely focused on using community engagement strategies to build the tech ecosystem here in Oakland.

I'm the Community Engagement Manager for the Kapor Center, so I look at ways to partner with local groups and collaboratives to make sure people of color in Oakland, and more broadly, have the resources (information, funds, networks, etc.) to accomplish the goals they set for themselves around access to tech careers.

2. Why is diversity and Inclusion important to the Kapor Center.

At the Kapor Center, we believe that the tech sector needs to reflect the diversity of the U.S. in order to be as successful, impactful, and profitable as it could possibly be. We also believe in equality, and diversity and inclusion strategies are imperative when you want to create a world and a working environment where all people can bring their full identities to the table.

3. How does this Hack Reactor scholarship align with the Kapor Center's D&I goals?

“I personally believe that any coding bootcamp that is serious about diversity and inclusion will have a variety of financing options available to their students to meet diverse needs. The fact that Hack Reactor offers scholarships with a commitment of at least 50% of them going to groups that are underrepresented in tech shows that Hack Reactor is putting its money where its mouth is.”

4. Tell us about your bootcamp journey, and why you decided to become a software engineer?

After a few years of exposure to all sorts of diverse young people being empowered by tech and coding experiences, I wanted to experience it for myself. I didn't want ask people in the community to be excited about and confident to do something I wasn't even willing to consider. So, I found a coding bootcamp that was in-person that still allowed me to keep my day job. It's expensive to live in the Bay Area, and I knew that a full-time bootcamp was not an option for me. The process taught me so much about things I'd only heard about through other people's anecdotes - like impostor syndrome and how people don't necessarily give you the same respect when they hear you graduated from a coding bootcamp versus getting a computer science degree at a 4-year academic institution. It also gave me a command of technical language that has enabled me to be much more effective in understanding the tech ecosystem that I'm trying to positively impact through my work at the Kapor Center. And, now I can build stuff.

5. Why is the scholarship focused on Black and Latinx programmers?

When you look at the diversity numbers of tech companies, the bottom tier is consistently Black and Latinx populations, especially when you look at technical roles.

6. Why is the scholarship focus on Oakland based programmers?

The Kapor Center's home is Oakland. Because of that, we are very focused on building the Oakland tech ecosystem and making sure that those most directly connected to our work are able to benefit from the partnerships and collaborations that we develop. We also want folks from Oakland to build their startups IN Oakland and hire other folks FROM Oakland as much as possible. We believe Oakland has the talent, so that's where we're focusing.

7. What advice would you give to scholarship applicants and/or those apprehensive about taking the leap toward programming?

It took me a couple of years to get the courage to apply for and attend a coding bootcamp. What I found was I 'can' code. I 'can' learn and comprehend complicated technical material, despite all the doubts in my mind. I see programming as one of many tools that can help an individual achieve the level of impact in the world they desire. So, it doesn't hurt to try it out. If it ends up being something you excel at, even better! Do your research about which bootcamps will best meet your needs and learning style, but don't let fear be the reason you don’t even consider the opportunity.

The Kapor Center x Hack Reactor scholarship round runs from April 3 to May 5 for Oakland residents that identify as Black or Latinx.

Click this link to apply and feel free to email scholarships@hackreactor.com if you have any questions or concerns.