Reboot Grant Boosts ITSMF College Mentoring Program for Black Women in Tech

ATLANTA, October 1, 2020 – Through a series of ongoing and new programs, and in collaboration with its global partners, alliances, and Reboot Representation, ITSMF reaffirms its commitment to increasing the representation of Black women in technology. The organization actively supports the belief that information technology and technology platforms connect people and ideas; nurtured leaders can transform future leaders…mind, body and soul; and diverse leadership invites new perspectives needed for innovation.

ITSMF houses its women-focused programming and experiences in the Emerge academy. The Emerge mission is to help the participant find her own voice and increase the representation of women of color at senior levels in technology through a series of professional workshops, supportive environments and model leadership, with an eye towards the unique experiences women leaders of color have in the workplace.

The inaugural 2018 Emerge Academy cohort presented the Emerge Mentorship Program as their capstone project proof of concept (POC) for college aged women of color, with a focus on three objectives: 1) Create an offering of community impact for ITSMF; 2) Create visibility and safeguard the journey for college women in IT; and 3) Demonstrate the learnings through cohesiveness and teamwork. The results led to the vision of expanding the POC to become another flagship program for ITSMF.

The Emerge Mentoring program pairs experienced technology professionals with Black female students pursuing a degree in the technology field. These chosen leaders encourage and mentor the young women to complete their degree and increase the potential for them to become successful technology professionals. The program is open to college students in their sophomore or junior years with a STEM major who are interested in technology. The Emerge Mentorship Program consists of four main program components: 1) 1:1 Mentorship; 2) A Speaker Series; 3) Group Sessions; and 4) Scholarships and Internships where students will be awarded annual scholarships as gap funding and as a stipend. We will also promote internship opportunities working with our partner companies.

As a result of the $500,000 grant from Reboot Representation, this program will grow from serving 25 students to 50 in the 2021 academic year and expand to a cohort size of 375 students within three years. The students will be enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Majority Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the country. During the pilot, ITSMF interfaced with six HBCUs: Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, Howard University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University and South Carolina State University. Additional schools will be selected based on predefined criteria.

“ITSMF’s Emerge Mentorship Program recognizes that retention is just as important as recruitment as we work towards a more inclusive and representative tech industry,” said Dwana Franklin-Davis, CEO of Reboot Representation. “The Emerge Mentorship Program provides support — from college to internships to the workplace — that is critical in growing a tech culture that leads to long-term success for Black women in information technology.”

ITSMF has graduated over 600 professionals in our leadership programs, with over 50% of them women of color. Seventy-five to eighty percent of these participants have received promotions or expanded job responsibilities; most within 12 months of graduating. Our vision is to facilitate the creation of barrier-free opportunities for Black technology influencers, innovators and leaders. This program will enable us to address barriers Black female technology students may face.

“ITSMF is appreciative of the partnership with and grant from Reboot Representation. It gives us an opportunity to invest in tomorrow’s Black female leaders, providing them with a unique experience that immediately exposes and connects each participant to a powerful network. Seventy-five percent of the students are expected to complete their majors, and they have already experienced a 48% increase in internship opportunities,” said Viola Maxwell-Thompson, President and CEO, ITSMF.

About Information Technology Senior Management Forum

Since 1996, Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) has been dedicated to increasing the representation of Black professionals at senior levels in technology, to impact organizational innovation and growth. We do this by developing and nurturing these dynamic leaders through enrichment of the mind, body, and soul. At its inception, only 3% of senior-level positions in the technology industry were held by Blacks. With a half-million new computer-related jobs expected by 2028, ITSMF is committed to increasing the number of qualified Black professionals for these positions. For more information about ITSMF, visit www.itsmfonline.org.

ITSMF Pilots Mentorship Program for Female College Students

ATLANTA, October 1, 2019 – Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) is pleased to announce the launch of the pilot EMERGE Mentorship Program. The pilot will run from September 2019 to May 2020 with six participating Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and an experienced pool of mentors who are leaders within the technology industry. 

This one-year mentoring program is designed to support and retain black women in STEM majors. Research and data substantiate the unbalanced representation of women in STEM fields due to a number of societal, psychological, and economic factors which result in high attrition rates—the leaky pipeline. Lack of belonging induced by previous exposure to unconscious bias and stereotypes foster an exclusive environment, underperformance and, subsequently, diminished interest in these fields. To combat this, the EMERGE Mentorship Program consists of three components: 1:1 mentoring with industry leaders, virtual learning sessions, and organized peer engagement.

“Our community of leaders has committed to partnering with and caring for these promising students to ensure that each one of them is equipped to add value and, ultimately, lead in the STEM space,” said Elizabeth Agosto, Director and Global Chief Operating Officer, Information Security Division at BNY Mellon. “This program takes mentorship to another level. And if these young women own this experience—really take it seriously—and nurture these relationships, they will not only have a good mentor, but will have earned themselves a sponsor who will extend their personal capital to them when it matters most.”

After the successful 3-month proof of concept developed and implemented for the ITSMF EMERGE Academy capstone project in 2018, this year-long pilot is the next step in helping to bridge the gender diversity gap in STEM fields. 25 female students from the following schools are participating in this pilot: Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, Howard University, North Carolina A&T University, North Carolina Central University, South Carolina State University.

Donna M. Grant, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Business; Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department Chair; and Computer Science and Business (CSB) Program Coordinator at North Carolina Central University, believes that the EMERGE Mentorship Program benefits are multifold. “I anticipate that our students will gain a sense of reality of what it’s like to be a female Information Technology professional in an industry that is currently dominated by men. I want them to learn strategies on how to successfully navigate through corporate political environments. This mentoring experience should supplement the students’ book knowledge from the university with real-world practical knowledge gained in Corporate America.”

About Information Technology Senior Management Forum

Since 1996, Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF) has been dedicated to increasing the representation of black professionals at senior levels in technology, to impact organizational innovation and growth. We do this by developing and nurturing these dynamic leaders through enrichment of the mind, body, and soul. At its inception, only 3% of senior-level positions in the technology industry were held by blacks. With 1.2M computer-related job openings expected by 2022, ITSMF is committed to increasing the number of qualified black professionals for these positions. For more information about ITSMF, visit www.itsmfonline.org.

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