EBay’s Small Bump in Diversity Marks a Long Road Ahead in Tech

When pressure was placed on tech giants to diversify overwhelmingly white, male staffs, eBay promised to step up to the plate. That was back in 2014.

A year later, eBay’s diversity report reveals an increase in diversity, but it’s the type of incredibly underwhelming change that could serve as a serious warning sign in the world of tech.

After making a strong commitment to improve diversity within its company, eBay only managed to bump the number of female employees and Black employees up by 1 percentage point.

Some publications insist this is a sign that increasing diversity in tech will be a much longer process than anyone could have imagined.

“The modest change underscores that, even with a strong commitment from top management, it will take some time to change the makeup of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, which are largely white and male,” USA Today reports.

But is that really the end of the story?

EBay couldn’t do it so nobody can? We should all expect to see diversity increase at such a painfully slow pace?

While nobody is expecting a diversity fairy to have Black employees randomly popping up in the boardrooms of major tech giants, a 1-percentage point increase is beyond underwhelming — it’s disappointing and suspicious.

It begs the question if tech giants are truly doing all they can to really make a difference in the makeup of their companies or are they throwing out hefty donations to random causes in hopes that the lack of diversity in their staffs is a problem that will correct itself over time.

Either way, eBay is hoping to continue its push toward diversity even as it officially breaks into two different companies — eBay and its payment division of PayPal.

“As eBay and PayPal separate into two independent companies during 2015, both plan to provide data updates for 2016 to give each of them a full year to collect diversity data,” spokesperson Abby Smith told USA Today. “It’s important though that each company has a full year of data. We will give each company some time to chart its course, so the next time we’ll report (diversity) findings is for 2016.”

Other tech giants like Google, Twitter, Apple and Facebook also fell under harsh scrutiny after their own reports pulled back the curtain on their own struggles with diversity with their staffs.

It’s unclear so far if the other tech giants have seen substantial improvements on diversity with their staffs.

Diverse Emojis Finally Arrive and Black Twitter Couldn’t Be Any Happier

What Black Twitter demands, Black Twitter gets.

So is the case with the official arrival of diverse emojis that finally made their way to Apple device owners everywhere who installed the latest iOS update.

The new update comes with an abundance of new features but none seemed to take over social media quite like the introduction of the long-awaited Black emojis.

From now on, texting and tweeting will never be the same.

Black users can now set their Apple devices to use a plethora of icons that more closely identify with their own appearance.

In usual Black Twitter fashion, users celebrated the new diverse faces with comedic tweets.

“Y’all finna see this Black power fist all over your time TL,” one user tweeted.

Another wrote, “Shoutout to this Black queen emoji! Let our girls know!”

“#ByeFelicia has so much more impact with this dark-skin hand next to it,” another quipped.

Of course, the wave of celebrations was short-lived for some who couldn’t help but look to the future and sigh at what is only the inevitable.

“Y’all gonna rethink asking for these diverse emoji when someone hits you w/ a little black face next to watermelon during a racial spat,” one user tweeted.

Another added that the diverse emojis will take over as the “Black best friend” excuse.

“White people gonna be like I’m not racist. I use black emoji all the time,” the tweet read.

Others acknowledged that the new emojis are certainly going to shake up social media and disturb racists, but they didn’t seem too concerned about their possible reactions.

“Oh man, I can’t wait to use this new black Santa emoji to enrage conservative friends and family next holiday season,” another user wrote.

In fact, controversy has already been bubbling with some users getting a head start on making offensive posts about the diverse digital faces.

“Where’s the emoji for black on black crime,” one user wrote.

Still, no tweet garnered as much backlash as Clorox’s failed attempt to ask for a bleach emoji.

With the addition of 300 new emojis there are certainly a lot more symbols for users to play with and only time will tell what new meanings the Black Twitter subculture will give to the new icons.

After all, it would be hard to find a single person who identifies as a part of Black Twitter who uses the eggplant emoji to symbolize the unpopular fruit.

Among the 300 new emojis, however, a bottle of bleach was not present, which drove Clorox to send out its own misguided request.

“New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach,” the tweet read along with a bottle of bleach composed of emojis.


It wasn’t long before the social media site was sent into a frenzy.

“You guys couldn’t possibly think that tweet would be a good idea,” one user wrote.

Another added, “Someone’s social media intern is in deep [poop emoji].”

Others questioned if the tweet was purposefully offensive or just the result of someone not thinking things all the way through.

“I don’t even think they were trying to be racist,” one tweet read. “Just bein stupid.”

“Ah… Should have ran that by someone first. Bad call,” another tweeted with a screenshot of Clorox’s controversial post read.

Clorox has since responded and insisted that it had no intention to hurt or offend anybody.

diverse emoji

The tweet was definitely a misstep as far as interpretation and showed a lack of consideration of the current landscape on social media as race relations continue to crumble in America.

Either way, the Clorox tweet should be the least of Black Twitter’s problems.

According to a report released in 2014, 50 percent of Clorox’s independent board of directors are “minorities” and roughly 10 percent of their employees are Black.

While that number can certainly use a boost, it’s actually a larger number than the current percentage of Black employees at companies like, oh let’s say, Twitter and Apple.

Twitter diversity

Only about 2 percent of Twitter’s own workforce is Black and Apple shouldn’t be excused for its own diversity issues simply because it rolled out some diverse emojis under serious pressure from their consumers.

While it’s refreshing to see Black social media users attempting to take on the watchdog role against would-be racist corporations, their focus on a Clorox bottle tweet may also be a little misguided when the very platform they are using to launch the attacks seems to show no interest in hiring any of them.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the diverse emoji celebrations, nobody has mentioned the fact that there are now probably more Black people on an iPhone’s keyboard than there are actually working at Apple.

Funding and Fear: Two Gatekeepers Barring Black Tech Startup Founders From Entering Silicon Valley

When the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley was brought to the nation’s attention, tech lovers and entrepreneurs from all backgrounds quickly began discussing exactly what was keeping Black people barred from the world of tech.

Disparities in quality of education, lack of access to resources for students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and racially biased hiring practices quickly emerged as some of the most popular ideas.

Statistically speaking, there is more than enough data to back up these claims and suggest that fixing these issues could be key to diversifying the world of tech.

As the national discourse continues, however, some tech entrepreneurs are highlighting two more major obstacles that are preventing Black people from not only getting into tech but also discouraging them from launching their own startups.

Funding and fear.

This intimidating duo could possibly be among the great adversaries for aspiring Black business owners, especially in the world of tech.

The number of Black employees at tech giants like Google and Facebook was well below the 5 percent mark in recent years. The number of Black tech-savvy entrepreneurs who launched their own startups plummets to a measly 1 percent.

One key reason for this is the lack of funding.

Even outside the world of tech, Black people have historically faced much greater obstacles than their white counterparts when it comes to seeking financial assistance via loans, grants, investments or donations.

Without the necessary funding to get a startup off the ground, it may be nearly impossible for Black-owned startups to stand a chance in the rapidly expanding tech field.

Companies like Y Combinator are hoping to level the playing the field.

Y Combinator is a major incubator for startups and provides seed money to projects that show great potential.

In the past, the company has backed startups like Airbnb and Dropbox.

Now the company is expanding its reach with a particular focus on Black entrepreneurs.

Even as other programs like Y Combinator have started to shift focus in order to find more Black entrepreneurs with promising tech startups, it’s the other enemy that is still causing many to shy away from opportunity — fear.

At least, that’s how Michael Seibel sees it.

Seibel, the first Black partner at Y Combinator, explained that many Black people have a negative perception of launching their own startups.

“We have to convince Black engineers that they have more control of their careers than they realize and they will always be in demand,” Seibel told The Root.

Statistics would also work to support Seibel’s point.

Less than 5 percent of Y Combinator applicants for the winter program were Black.

It suggests that these entrepreneurs simply don’t know about the opportunity or are convincing themselves to not even take a chance in stepping out on their own.

As frightening of a decision as that may be, it’s a decision that has already led Black entrepreneurs like Riana Lynn and Talib Graves-Manns to life-changing opportunities.

Both of the Black startup founders were announced as a part of the first class of entrepreneurs in residence under Google and Code2040.

The coveted title means they will have access to free office space, mentoring teams from both Google and Code 2040 along with a $40,000 stipend.

They are both urging other Black entrepreneurs to overcome the fear of Silicon Valley and take a massive leap forward with their own tech startup.

Lynn explained that a part of the fear could come from a lack of knowledge or not feeling like one has enough experience in the field. It may seem like a legitimate reason to stay out of Silicon Valley’s deep waters, but Lynn says the solution to such a problem is simple.

“If you don’t have the skills to build exactly what you need, then you should at least have team members or freelancers that can help you move things along faster,” she told The Root. “Then you can also understand a little more about how long the project is supposed to take or how much it may cost, and that’s really key to launching a project as a startup founder with little or no capital.”

SXSW Interactive Reminds Young Blerds of the Racial Disparities Facing Black People in Tech

Tech lovers, designers, creatives and many more convened in Austin, Texas, to join the South by Southwest interactive experience.

These innovators were prepared to find investors, share their unique ideas with business veterans or just mingle with other entrepreneurial hopefuls who were ready to become a part of the ever-expanding technology industry.

Unfortunately, Black and Latino members of this crowd were met with disappointment.

While the crowd of attendees has been more diverse than it has ever been, according to multiple reports, the diversity of investors and venture capitalists in the space is still just as whitewashed as ever.

Joshua Mitchell was one of the Black innovators whose trip to SXSW was also a bleak reminder that constant conversations about diversity in STEM are no promise that change has actually taken place.

Mitchell was hoping to link with a Black venture capitalist firm that would be interested in funding his start-up jeniusLogic, a company that focuses on building mobile apps for people in the music and entertainment space.

With so many aspiring musicians and entertainers paving their own paths to Hollywood, it’s an app idea that could certainly prove to be a major success.

That potential still wasn’t enough to overcome the racial barriers for Black people like Mitchell who are interested in the tech space.

“There’s a big disconnect between people of color’s culture and the technology industry,” he told USA Today. “Right now, it’s a little difficult to navigate.”

The lack of diversity in tech would never be considered breaking news at this point.

Consumers caused quite the uproar when tech giants released diversity reports back in 2014 that revealed that less than 5 percent of their employees were people of color.

Many of the companies had workforces that were less than 2 percent Black.

When it came to management positions, the numbers were even more troubling. Black leaders in the tech space were nearly non-existent.

It has caused tech leaders, major companies and national programs to shift gears to focus more on boosting diversity, but the team behind SXSW never had to bother with a major shift — they had always focused on discussing diversity in STEM.

This year, SXSW hosted more than 100 sessions that focused on diversity in tech and that number was only a slight increase from their usual numbers, proving that they have always found diversity in STEM to be an important topic.

SXSW is also one of the few major events that is being more direct with its approach to diversity.

Despite million-dollar plans and national initiatives being announced to boost diversity in tech, there are many cases where the details are murky and unreliable.

SXSW, on the other hand, is making a particular effort to not only discuss the issues but to discuss plausible solutions.

“We want to have a lineup that reflects what we think should be a more diverse tech ecosystem,” explained Hugh Forrest, the head of SXSW’s Interactive section, to USA Today. “We still have a long, long way to go.”

That’s the unfortunate part of many of these conversations. The realization that throwing money at the problem is not enough and that the path to diversity in Silicon Valley and beyond is still a long and winding one.

One key element to embarking on a successful journey, however, is realizing that tech success is not all about skill.

“The Silicon Valley perspective is that everyone’s here because they deserve to be here and they’ve worked hard and that’s really bull,” Hank Williams, the founder and chief executive of Platform.org told USA Today. “The reality is everyone who is successful had someone who helped them get there.”

When so few Black people are in leadership positions, it becomes increasingly unlikely that Black people can enter an industry that is reliant on someone giving a young talent a chance that could catapult them to success.

Studies show that leaders and hiring managers are attracted to what’s familiar, and when white males are dominating the tech industry, there is no mystery as to what it is exactly that seems comfortable and familiar to today’s biggest tech executives.

The White House Brings Back ‘We the Geeks’ Series to Celebrate Black Talent in STEM

White House response to diversity problems in tech

Today’s biggest tech giants and other major corporations have been doing their best to drive diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) after reports recently revealed just how many white males dominated the space. Now, the government is also adding to the conversation with the return of “We the Geeks.”

The White House recently announced that in honor of Black History Month, the special Google + Hangout series will be making a return and making a point to highlight the “untold stories of African Americans in STEM.”

The series, which returns Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST, will bring “extraordinary students, scientists, engineers and inventors” together to talk “about how they got inspired to pursue STEM and how they are paying it forward to help engage America’s full and diverse STEM talent pool.”

According to the White House’s official website, the series of guests will include Rachel Harrison Gordon, presidential innovation fellow; Marvin Carr, student volunteer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Nicolas Badila, winner of the National STEM Video Game Challenge, and several other leaders in STEM.

The website claims the return of the Google + Hangout series is a federal response to the lack of diversity in STEM.

“Today, minorities remain considerably underrepresented in many areas of the Nation’s STEM student-pool and workforce,” the website reads. “This is a squandered opportunity for our country and for those bright, creative individuals who might otherwise help solve the problems we face as a country and enjoy STEM careers — the kind of careers that not only make a positive difference in the world, but also pay more than non-STEM jobs.”

In addition to the Google + Hangout special, the White House also hosted a virtual Edit-a-Thon on Tuesday.

The Edit-a-Thon allowed “researchers, students, and expert Wikipedia-editors” to “convene in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building for a two-hour editing sprint to research and crowd-source the stories of African American STEM all-stars.”

One of Tech’s Few Black CEOs Says Technology Can Help Crack the Code to Racial Equality

The technology industry’s diversity problem is no secret anymore, but one Black CEO who has managed to break into the predominantly white industry says technology actually has the potential to encourage and promote racial equality.

Most of the concerns about the lack of Black people in the tech world deal with biased hiring practices and limited educational resources for Black students interested in tech, but Civic Eagle CEO Damola Ogundipe explained that the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley has even greater implications than one might initially think.

Ogundipe explained that technology, the same industry that has turned its back on Black entrepreneurs for years, could be a great tool to help advance discussions of racial inequality in America.

“What we can see is that technology improves connectivity on all levels,” he told Tech.co. “It allows us to connect across geographical locations and cultures, and it gives us even more opportunities to have honest and open conversations. Mobile technology can literally put the world at our fingertips; social media can make political movements grow like wildfire around the globe.”

That was certainly the case with movements like #BlackLivesMatter and the Atlanta-based #ItsBiggerThanYou rally that brought more than a 1,000 protesters into the streets in support of Michael Brown, the unarmed Ferguson, Missouri, teen who was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson.

He added that, “Civic technology can provide us with opportunities to make improvements in the civic space and allow people to connect to movers and shakers of social causes, community organizations, legislation, policy-makers and political candidates — faster and more efficient than it ever has been.”

This power that technology potentially has to be a great weapon in the war against racial inequality makes it all the more disappointing that Black voices aren’t present in the industry.

Ogundipe explained that many aspiring Black tech entrepreneurs have ideas that are important for the entire world as well as their own communities, but they are shut out of the market because investors only tend to invest in the type of entrepreneurs that are familiar to them.

“Investors tend to invest based on patterns,” he said. “It helps mitigate risk and is completely logical and pragmatic. However, this presents difficulties for black leaders because the pattern of success has typically been a white male from a certain background with certain skills and experiences.”

Fortunately, there are some tech ideas, like Ogundipe’s own Civic Eagle, that are making it a point to help better facilitate much-needed conversations about racial inequality and the overall landscape of politics.

“The concept for Civil Eagle came from a feeling of frustration with the current civic environment,” he said. “There’s actually one specific moment that kind of pushed me to build Civic Eagle: I was flipping back and forth between news channels, trying to understand the Affordable Care Act, but instead I would get different — and purposefully biased — interpretations of a specific section of the bill.”

Civic Eagle helps strip away the bias so people can really figure out what’s going on inside their government. The app shares new pieces of legislation and allows users to create safe forums to host debates and reach their own decisions about policies.

Being better informed about new legislation can help the Black community really figure out who has been fighting for them politically and who has been hiding behind empty promises to push for the types of policies that could help address racial inequality.


After Revealing Its Own Diversity Issues, Tech Giant Google Gives $775,000 to a Diversity-Boosting Nonprofit

Google diversity

After years of contributing to the diversity problem in tech, Google is stepping up and donating $775,000 to Code2040, a nonprofit that aims to boost diversity in the tech space.

It wasn’t long ago that Google was in the hot seat after the tech giant’s diversity report revealed a stunning lack of diversity among its employees. Reports indicated that only about 1 percent of Google’s employees were Black.

Well now Google is hoping to help foster diversity with a hefty donation that will allow Code2040 to launch a Technical Applicant Prep (TAP) program.

The program will give Black and Latino students access to the type of resources and tools they need to perfect their craft in the tech sphere. This is a major move for Code2040 because the lack of resources is one of the major factors keeping people of color out of the tech space, in addition to racially biased hiring processes and subconscious prejudices in the industry.

Code2040 has always operated on a platform that supports the idea that people of color can thrive in the tech space if they are given the resources and opportunity to do so.

In addition to allowing Code2040 to launch its TAP program, Google’s donation could have an even greater impact on the nonprofit.

Google is one of the most popular and most successful tech giants there is and its hefty donation is a major seal of approval of the Code2040 mission, which could easily help the nonprofit garner the attention of other major players in the tech field.

People are also hoping that it will encourage other major tech companies to make diversity a priority.

To be clear, Google certainly isn’t the first major tech company to dedicate a large amount of money to helping the diversity mission.

Intel recently announced a plan to spend $300 million to improve workplace diversity and invest in other diversity-boosting initiatives, programs and nonprofits over the course of several years.

Apple was also a major giant behind the Hour of Code, which provided free coding classes to young people all across the globe. Apple has also recently surfaced as a leader in hiring more Blacks and Latinos than the other major competing tech giants.

While Google, Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo all had workforces that weren’t even 10 percent Black and Hispanic, Apple boosted its number of Black and Latino workers to 18 percent.

That percentage is still low and not representative of the actual number of Blacks and Latinos in the tech space, but it is certainly a vast improvement for the company and a much better score than the numbers presented by its competitors.

For now, Blerds are hopeful that Google’s donation is also a sign that the company will be opening its own doors to more Black and Latino employees.

As for Code2040, the nonprofit will also be launching a residency program for tech entrepreneur hopefuls.

The “entrepreneur-in-residence” program will kick off in three pilot cities—Austin, Texas; Durham, North Carolina, and Chicago.

While these residents will receive roughly $40,000 in seed money from the nonprofit, Code2040 will not take any equity from the businesses.


Combating Racism With Coding: Van Jones Discusses Teaching 100,000 Low-Income Kids How to Code

Van Jones #YesWeCode

All across the nation, the Black community has marched and rallied, chanted and sung, pushed and fought for justice after the slayings of unarmed Black men by white authorities.

As the community continues discussing solutions to ending the types of racial profiling that too often steals the lives of innocent young Black men, civil rights activist Van Jones hopes to unlock coding as the secret weapon in the war against racism.

The inspiration came shortly after the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was gunned down by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was acquitted of murder.

Jones was discussing race in America with a music icon and his close friend, Prince.

“Every time you see a Black kid wearing a hoodie, you say: there’s a thug,” Jones recalled telling Prince during an interview with USA Today. “If you see a white kid wearing a hoodie, you say: there’s Mark Zuckerberg. I said, ‘That’s because of racism.’ ”

That’s when Prince delivered an answer that would light a fire under Jones.

“Maybe so,” Jones said Prince replied. “Or maybe you civil rights guys haven’t created enough Mark Zuckerbergs.”

From that moment forward, the challenge was on.

Jones launched Yes We Code as a new initiative under his Rebuild the Dream organization.

The initiative hopes to teach 100,000 low-income youths how to write code.

Prince was so excited about the initiative that he promoted it himself back in July as he headlined the Essence Festival in New Orleans.

Yes We Code also held its first hackathon in the city.

Prince’s rebuttal to Jones’ question made the civil rights leader realize that giving Black kids the tools they need to thrive in today’s economy is key to helping them overcome prejudice and change the way they are perceived by the population at large.

The Black community did, indeed, need more Mark Zuckerbergs.

“How do we create a situation that when you see a young Black kid in a hoodie, you think, maybe I should go up and ask the kid for a loan or a job as opposed to assuming the kid’s a threat,” Jones continued. “… Yes We Code aspires to become the United Negro College Fund equivalent for coding education. Yes We Code exists to find and fund the next Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg in communities you would never expect to find them.”

The initiative comes at a perfect time.

The tech industry is desperately seeking young, Black talent.

Some of today’s biggest tech giants were met with backlash when diversity reports revealed that companies like Google and Facebook had very few Black employees.

In addition to being met with backlash by the public, it also served as a reminder for the companies that there was an entire market of ideas they hadn’t fully tapped into because they were missing key voices from communities of color.

Black consumers are some of the heaviest technology users and yet they were hardly present in that industry.

Sadly, many children of color have no idea that they would be able to flourish in the tech space.

“Aptitude tests show one out of five kids of any color have an inherent aptitude for the kind of problem-solving that is required to be a computer programmer,” Jones said. “So that means one out of five kids out here in low-income communities, Native American reservations, Appalachia, housing projects, barrios, ghettos could be on the Mark Zuckerberg track. The problem is their mother doesn’t know, their father doesn’t know, the coach doesn’t know, the teacher doesn’t know, the preacher doesn’t know. So they all want to be LeBron James.”

The NBA welcomes a very small number of new players every year, which means many of these young kids with NBA dreams will be met with disappointment.

In the tech field, however, opportunities are vast.

“Meanwhile, the technology sector says they are going to be a million workers short in eight years,” Jones said. “And if we are not careful, we will have 15 Black Urkels trying out for a million jobs.”

For that reason, Jones believes the Black community has to focus on guiding the youths and helping them reach such opportunities.

That is the real forefront of the battle against racism — putting Black people, especially youths, in a position to succeed and flourish.

“The forward march of technology is unstoppable,” he said. “The forward march of communities wanting to be a part of the process of writing the future is unstoppable. The miracle that’s happening is that these two inevitable forces are coming together constructively. In the last century, this would have been protests, lawsuits and a lot of vitriol.”

In the midst of racial tensions across America, the war against racism has to be just as prevalent in the offices of Silicon Valley as it is in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.


Starting With the Youth: iUrban Teen Tackles Tech’s Diversity Problem at Its Core

Tech's diversity problem

As the tech industry continues to battle a serious diversity problem, one program has emerged as a leader in getting Black youths interested in, exposed to and engaged in STEM careers.

iUrban Teen has garnered attention on a national scale and has been a front-runner when it comes to not only exposing young people of color to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, but also getting them actively engaged in the field at a young age.

“What truly motivated me to create iUrban Teen was the fact that a lot of folks in diverse communities don’t know about the opportunities that are available in STEM careers,” said Deena Pierott, iUrban Teen founder and chief innovator. “This is powerful information to share and I wanted to create a vehicle where we not only told them, we also showed them.”

Many of today’s tech giants are dishing out millions of dollars to create diversity boards, hire new advisers and find other ways to boost diversity within their company walls, but iUrban Teen is attacking Silicon Valley’s diversity issue at its very core.

While unusually high barriers to entry have been plaguing Black people who are interested in STEM careers, there are also far fewer applicants interested in breaking through those walls.

Several studies and successful tech entrepreneurs have pointed to the fact that many Black children are not exposed to the wonders of technology due to insufficient funding in school or a lack of access to mentors.

Thanks to iUrban Teen, that problem may not persist much longer.

STEM programs for Black youth “We’re solving the digital divide,” Pierott, who is also the CEO of Mosaic Blueprint, continued. “We’re solving the problem of exclusion by sharing information with parents and teens about avenues of opportunities and how to get there.”

The program focuses on educating young Black males between the ages of 13 and 18 about STEM careers and giving them the skills they need to have a solid foundation to build on if they want to pursue such a career path.

The program is also unique for its integration of the arts with STEM, proving to the Black youth that the opportunities in the STEM field are far more diverse than just coding and number crunching.

It also equips the teens with “new perspectives” of the STEM field that could make them truly valuable to the biggest tech giants of the future.

From Teen Tech Summits to STEM+Art Tours, the program hosts a variety of ways to get students of color to dive head first into the tech space and take the first step toward creating a successful future.

That, Pierott says, is more rewarding than any of the major coveted awards that iUrban Teen has earned in the past.

“I could say [my greatest achievement] was the White House honor or the Rockefeller Foundation nomination, or any of the other honors,” she said, but instead there were simpler moments that truly meant the world to Pierott. “My greatest achievement was to receive an email from a mother who said, ‘Thank you for what you do, it was always so difficult trying to get my sons to talk about school, careers, etc., however, every time we attend an iUrban Teen event we talk for hours about the possibilities.’ That’s my greatest achievement — that we make a difference.”

While many Black youth can learn a lot from the programs, there is also a lot they can learn from Pierott herself.

In today’s job market and economy, only the daring, the bold and the strong have the ability to take a leap of faith to become the head of their own companies.

It’s an accomplishment that not many get to boast, but Pierott certainly has more than enough bragging rights.

Even as she stands as a successful businesswoman today, however, she reminds people that the road there wasn’t free of obstacles.

iUrban Teen The key was to embrace those obstacles and “fail forward.”

“I’m pretty flexible and I know how to fail forward,” she said. “Meaning, I’m not afraid of failing on a project. I just try a different approach.”

The hard work paid off and Pierott achieved great things while her mother was still alive to witness it.

Pierott’s mother died just one day after she received her first major award in October of 2010.

“I was extremely close to my mother and was also her caregiver,” she said. “She was diagnosed with dementia in 2007 and that’s when I decided to leave my job and start my own business at home so that I could take care of her. It was important for me to allow her to see me be successful with my business while she still knew who I was. So I worked and worked and worked on my business model. Receiving the MED Week Minority Business of the Year for Mosaic Blueprint was a highpoint for me and for my mother who was there to see it.”