RTC Women in Tech Fund to provide rapid-access funding for as many as 1,000 low-income women pursuing computing degrees and careers.
Durham, NC—August 1, 2022—Today, Rewriting the Code (RTC) and Last Mile Education Fund released the RTC Women in Tech Fund, a $1.5M collaborative fund that will invest in degree completion for undergraduate women in computing facing financial obstacles to graduation.
Funds are awarded to female-identifying college undergraduates within four semesters of completing a computing-related degree. Though enrollment in computing degree programs is growing, many students don’t make it over the finish line to graduation. Nationally, less than 20% of students from the bottom two income quartiles earn a degree within six years of starting college, and financial obstacles are often the cause.
“It’s a critical period where traditional financial aid and scholarships dwindle or run out alongside growing costs associated with adult independence,” Sue Harnett, founder and president of Rewriting the Code, said. “What many consider minor trip-ups—a dying computer or broken-down car—can completely pull low-income, often marginalized students out of a degree program.”
In addition to unforeseen crises and basic living expenses like bills, groceries, housing, and transportation, low-income students in computing often can’t afford to participate in critical resume- and skill-building activities like clubs, conferences, hack-a-thons, and even paid internships that require an upfront investment in relocation.
The fund will provide rapid-turnaround mini-grants to address urgent needs, and larger grants to cover catastrophic events, access to opportunities, and tuition shortfalls. Applications are open now to members of Rewriting the Code.
Isha Brown is an RTC member who received a grant from Last Mile in March. She said the impact of someone believing in her future as a female technologist is significant.
“Their generous grant covered my housing costs for the Spring semester, allowing me to focus on my studies. I was able to carry a full course load so I can graduate later this year with a degree in software development!” she said. “As a first-generation college student, I never imagined I would get this far! Learning to code and having the privilege of education has changed my life.”
Last Mile’s first-of-its-kind approach, launched in late 2019, has garnered attention from media outlets like CNBC, Forbes, Reuters, and TechCrunch. The RTC Women in Tech Fund, seeded with an initial $1.5 million from Goldman Sachs, joins a portfolio of Last Mile partners and investors that includes Microsoft, philanthropist Ken Griffin, Capital One, SAP, AnitaB.org, CodePath, and Breakthrough Tech, among others.
“What we’re doing isn’t charity. It fills the half-million-engineer gap and creates gender and cultural diversity that we know drives innovation,” Ruthe Farmer, CEO and founder of Last Mile, said. “An investment in the last mile of a student’s journey to a technical degree is an extremely light lift that profoundly accelerates their ability to become high-earning, economy-building technologists,” she added. “It’s the difference between having more technical assets in the workforce and not having them. Right now, we need them more than ever.”
Last Mile Education Fund has set an ambitious goal to invest $60M in 30,000 striving tech and engineering students over the next decade. That number is estimated to produce more than $2.5Bn in wages, increase social mobility for low-income students and their families, and address the talent and diversity crises in tech.
Read more at rewritingthecode.org/women-in-tech-fund.
About Rewriting the Code
Rewriting the Code is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has developed a community of exceptional college and early-career women passionate about technology. RTC empowers women to become the next generation of engineers and tech leaders by providing community, industry education, professional and personal development, and hands-on experience through partnerships with companies across North America. RTC’s community comprises 15,500+ women—4,800+ undergraduates, 700 graduate students, and 10,000+ early-career professionals.
About Last Mile Education Fund
Last Mile Education Fund offers a disruptive approach to both social inequity and increasing diversity in technology by addressing critical funding gaps for low-income, underrepresented students within reach of a degree. Last Mile takes an abundance approach, investing in students demonstrating commitment to a technical degree, providing agile, just-in-time support for challenges they face beyond their control, and incubating them to be the next generation of innovators—because sometimes the last dollar invested is the most important of all. Since 2020, Last Mile has awarded over 1,600 grants. Last Mile grantees are 40% Black, 25% Hispanic, 16% Asian, 9% White, and 2% Native American.
Rewriting the Code:
Sue Harnett. email@example.com, 919.818.2536
Last Mile Education Fund:
Ruthe Farmer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 303.720.1913