Microsoft's 'Black Boy Joy' coding camp targets diversity in tech

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A new technology-driven initiative, powered by Microsoft, aims to introduce kids to coding, while hoping to increase minority representation within the field.

The new program is called the Microsoft 'Black Boy Joy' coding camp.

"I don't think people consider it nerdy anymore," said 13-year-old participant Sincere Williams. The teenager said it's cool to talk about coding, and for him, it's a challenging opportunity to turn his artwork into something more.

"It's definitely a difficult task," Sincere said. "I couldn't get past the movement part of it. Animations are easy, but the movement part is what I was confused about. Coding and all that."

When he met Mission Transformation's CEO Julius Baylone and learned about the free coding camp, Sincere immediately signed up.

"When I got the opportunity, I was like 'Shoot, this is good timing,'" he said. "I honestly wasn't doing anything else with my summer."

Baylone shared what inspired the Microsoft team to create the opportunity.

"I think it's really important that we start to get people who look like us motivated, passionate, and driven to this industry," he said.

Data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission shows, at most, 14% of employees in the high tech sector are Black. Of those, just 5% are executives.

Those are numbers Baylone said he's passionate about changing through his camp.

"It's a really lucrative and life-changing industry that can really help them build legacies and really build great wealth down the road," he said. "I think it's going to be a good opportunity for them, if continually exposed to it, to really change the world in unique and dynamic ways through STEM."

Baylone's message has been sinking in with Sincere. "More Black people should be doing this type of thing, in my opinion," Sincere said. "More Black people should be able to do anything they like to."

The coding camp will be facilitated by professionals at Microsoft. It's for Black boys from ages eight to 16 years old. It will take place Aug. 9 through Aug. 13.

The camp will be virtual, and interested students can still sign up on their website.
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