It is why the first cohort was 60% people of color. “I understand the importance of teachers — especially teachers of color — on the lives of young adults, brown and black, who don’t have the support they need.”
Vasquez’s team also partnered with Teach for America to provide their EdTXperts space to develop their entrepreneurshial ideas through Social Innovation and Entrepreneurial Leadership Incubator program. An accelerator program also helps educators launch and scale up their start-ups to expand opportunities for, and eventually extend economic success, to low income and other marginalized communities.
Numbers prove that Vasquez’s theory that teachers hold the key to diversifying the nation’s tech workforce. A 2016 report from Google notes that Black and Hispanic students are more likely than White students to have learned CS outside of the classroom in after-school clubs, black (58%) and Hispanic (50%) students are less likely than White students (68%) to use a computer at home.
Vasquez knows from personal experience that even when students of color are inspired to advance their education, obstacles remain. After graduating from Fordham University he took a job to pay his bills instead of pursuing his dreams. But being a sales and in-house IT coordinator left him unsatisfied.
With few options left, Vasquez applied to and was accepted into the New York City Teaching Fellows program. It brought him back to the Bronx and a fifth grade classroom of mostly Mexican and black kids that looked up to him much as he did Mrs. Williams. At PS 159/ Luis Munoz Marin he rediscovered his love for computer science. He also saw the vital role teachers play preparing students for an increasingly digital world.