A few weeks ago, a friend of mine named Liz Acosta asked me for advice.
“The deadline for Hackbright is coming up,” she told me. “Should I apply?
Acosta, who worked in the same office as ReadWrite’s editorial team until recently, had just learned she was losing her job as social media manager at Dogster, and was considering her next steps—including a career change into programming. Hackbright Academy offers a 10-week program in San Francisco exclusively for women looking to become software engineers.
See also: Girls Who Code: Crashing The Brogram
I told her she should go for it. ReadWrite’s been writing about tearing down barriers to access in technology, including changing the gender ratio in the software business. How could I not support her?
Acosta wasn’t sure she’d be accepted—but she got in. Which left her with a challenge: Without a job and living on her savings, how was she going to come up with a $3,000 deposit on tuition due next week?
That’s where she leaned on her social-media expertise, and came up with a crowdfunding campaign on YouCaring.com. She’s already raised $830, including a $500 anonymous donation.
She still needs to figure out how she’s going to pay the full $15,000 tuition. Acosta’s applied for scholarships, but won’t learn if she’s receiving any until a week after the deposit is due. She’s also considering using a payment plan Hackbright offers.
Acosta is far from alone in turning to friends and strangers on the Internet for tuition. Through September, 106,793 campaigns on GoFundMe, a crowdfunding site, had raised $13.14 million for educational costs this year, Business Insider reported. That’s up almost threefold from 2013.
I hesitated in sharing Acosta’s story, since she’s a friend. There are likely hundreds if not thousands of young women in similar situations who could use support in embracing software as a career.
But I also thought that hearing about her story might spur others to come forward and share their needs—and thus bring more women into the world of technology.
At ReadWrite, we’ve always thought more people should benefit from the rising tide of technology, which is why we’ve supported Girls Who Code with our ReadWriteMix events and consistently written about the need to increase diversity inside tech companies and in open-source projects.
I won’t ask you to support Acosta—that’s a personal decision. But I think her direct appeal will prompt you to think about what you’re doing to change the world of technology, and how you can help others along the way.
Lead screenshot from Liz Acosta’s YouTube video