Editor’s note: Facebook brought its “TechPrep” program to Durham last week as part of its initiative to encourage more “at risk” young people to become interested in writing code as a career. At the request of WRAL TechWire, the Facebook team explains what happened. (Read a full description of the program at the bottom of this post.)

DURHAM, N.C. – Last Thursday, Facebook hosted their fifth TechPrep Roadshow in Durham, NC at the Emily K. Center. The event was attended by over 200 people in the community, as well as Representative G.K. Butterfield, the US Congressman who represents North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

TechPrep is an online resource designed to introduce parents, guardians, students and others to careers in computer science and programming. According to Facebook, in 2015 research firm McKinsey & Co. found that 77% of parents and guardians indicated that they do not know how to help their child pursue studying computer science (CS). That number increases to 83% for lower income and non-college graduate parents and guardians. TechPrep aims to close the opportunity gap while educating people about the opportunities careers in CS provide.

“By 2020 there will be one million programming jobs left unfilled,” said Lauryn Ogbechie, a Facebook Partner Manager and the woman leading TechPrep on behalf of Facebook.  “This represents an incredible amount of opportunity, especially for people of color and others underrepresented in the technology industry.”

There are a lot of resources for students, but TechPrep fills a need when it comes to parents and guardians. There are very few resources on the market that aim to break down what is computer science, why it’s important and what opportunities are available to people in order to help them pursue CS education and eventually careers in CS and programming.

The TechPrep Roadshow on Thursday began with dinner, followed by sessions for parents and guardians in both English and Spanish. Parents heard from Facebook employees as part of a career panel, and received a tutorial of the TechPrep website from Ogbechie. At the same time, students—ranging in age from 8 to college age— were given the opportunity to try their hands at coding in separate sessions for elementary, middle and high schoolers.

The event also included a resource fair that featured Girls Who Code, Kramden Institute and East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI).

“In every market we visit, we make sure to include local community members, leaders and organizations,” said Ogbechie. “There are so many great resources out there, but as a parent myself, finding the right resource for my child can be overwhelming. We want to make sure people know what is available to them—not just online through TechPrep, but in their own backyards.”

After launching the online resource last October in both English and Spanish, Facebook started taking TechPrep on the road this spring. The company came to Durham after launching the Roadshow in East Palo Alto, CA and continuing on to Menlo Park, CA; Oakland, CA; and Miami, FL. Later this month, they will continue on to East Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL.

You can learn more about the Roadshow here:


From Facebook: What is TechPrep?

Source: Facebook

TechPrep is a Facebook-led initiative, supported by McKinsey & Company and created for parents, guardians and learners who want to understand more about computer science (CS) and programming. It’s a collection of fun and interesting information, resources and videos tailored to a variety of ages and experience levels.

We created TechPrep in response to our understanding, supported by a research study, about the participation of underrepresented minorities in programming careers. We found:

Black and Hispanic learners had great self-confidence about their own potential despite their underrepresentation in the industry.

50% of Blacks and 42% of Hispanics say they would be good at working with computers, compared to 35% of Whites and 35% of Asians.

However, a majority of parents say they do not know how to help their child pursue computer science.

In aggregate, 77% of parents/guardians say they do not know how to help their child pursue studying computer science.
This percentage increases to approximately 83% for lower income and non-college graduate parents/guardians.

Lower awareness of CS in Blacks and Hispanics is driven by lower access to both people and programs, compared to Whites and Asians, and is a major driver of Black and Hispanic drop-off when pursuing programming as a career path.

Our goal is to spur interest in CS and programming and motivate people from all backgrounds to pursue careers in tech. We believe through exposure and access, parents, guardians, and other influencers can enable their children and learners can gain the skills they need to have a technical career.