According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black, Latina and Native American women represent approximately 16% of the total U.S. population, but make up only 4% of students obtaining bachelor’s degrees in computing. On this trend, women of color receiving computing degrees will not double until 2052 — by which time they would be an even smaller proportion of all graduates. And out of this data emerges the fact that Native American women are the least likely to benefit from the wealth and opportunity of the tech industry, and of those obtaining computing degrees, only 0.1% of them are Native women.
So it’s perhaps appropriate that over this past weekend, a new nonprofit community organization comprising a large network of Native Americans in tech has had a big boost.
Natives Rising has now received grant funding to support and grow the number of Native American women graduating college with computing degrees, as well as provide a path toward entrepreneurship.
The grant was from the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, a group of 21 tech companies which aims to double the number of Black, Latina and Native American women receiving computing degrees by 2025, by making philanthropic investments in relevant programs.
Natives Rising now aims to recruit Native women to join the tech industry, plus provide scholarships, mentors, education and workplace opportunities.
In a statement, Dwana Franklin-Davis, CEO, Reboot Representation said: “Building culturally relevant education and pathways can build bridges by showing Native American students how tech relates to their experiences. We’re proud to partner with Natives Rising to create vibrant, viable pathways in tech.”
Currently, only 3% on college-level programs get philanthropic funding, whereas 66% is spent on K-12 programs, showing a wide gap where an untapped opportunity exists.
Natives Rising also runs the Natives Rising Founders Circle as an incubator for Native founders, especially founders interested in venture capital funding.
Danielle Forward, CEO and co-founder of Natives Rising, added: “Native Americans are the most impoverished group in the US, a vestige of intergenerational, systematic disenfranchisement. They are also being hit the hardest by inflation right now, as a result. While the tech industry is slowing down on hiring, tech jobs remain one of the most economically empowering, in demand job opportunities of the future, especially for those who desire remote work.”
Prior to Natives Rising, Forward (Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians) was a product designer for five years at Meta. Co-founder and Chief Impact Officer Betsy Fore (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) joined after previously co-founding Wondermento and Tiny Organics. Hannah Cirelli (Quechan Tribe of Fort Yuma) joined as co-founder and chief community officer, in addition to her current role in diversity at Uber.
Natives Rising is a nonprofit organization with Indigenous community members spanning more than 100 tribes. While focused on the U.S., the organization has developed an international following to economically empower Indigenous communities through tech careers and entrepreneurship.