Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls CODE, understands young girls’ need for mentorship and representation. Her program, which she founded in 2011, specifically nurtures young women of color ages 7 to 17 in technology and encourages them to pursue careers using the skills they have acquired. Like Lorberg, her experience as an outsider in the room – in her case, as both a woman and as a person of color – gave her the motivation and drive to ensure that girls with a passion for technology get the attention and resources they need.
"It was important to build a space for Black girls to feel empowered. A few key elements of our work include empowerment and self-confidence," Bryant says. "Not to leave anyone out, but to get more diverse voices in the room."
Black Girls CODE works with schools as community partners, including the Bronx elementary school where Madison took her first coding class at the age of 7. Now, at 12, she’s developed a particular fascination with cryptology, the study of codes that help keep information safe online. She’s also used what she learned in Black Girls CODE to help launch her lip gloss business that that went online in December.
Madison says her participation in the program has given her confidence that she did not have before. Exposure to the real world of tech has also given her life lessons and an understanding of how to navigate tight spaces both at – and away – from the computer.
"There's a problem, and every problem has a solution," she says. "You have to find a solution to create what you want."