Cubicle to CEO

Increasing Program Enrollment by Over 200%: What Educators and Course Creators Can Learn From The CEO of Girls Who Code

May 23, 2022 Ellen Yin featuring Dr. Tarika Barrett Episode 143
Cubicle to CEO
Increasing Program Enrollment by Over 200%: What Educators and Course Creators Can Learn From The CEO of Girls Who Code
Show Notes Transcript

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This week’s case study reveals how Girls Who Code increased enrollment in their programs by more than 200% during a global pandemic, a jump from 1600 to 5,000 students enrolled that brought their total students served to over 500,000. We’re joined in this interview by Dr. Tarika Barrett, the CEO of Girls Who Code, an international non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. 
With over two decades of building educational pathways for young people at organizations like the New York City Department of Education and New York University’s Center for Research on Teaching and Learning, along with an impressive list of accolades received for her work, including being named one of Crain’s 50 Most Powerful Women in New York in 2021, Dr. Tarika Barrett is an expert in education innovation. Whether you’re a course creator, nonprofit leader, or online educator and coach, this conversation will help you impact more lives with the work you do. 

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00:00.20

ellenyin

Hey, everyone welcome back to the show. We are so thrilled to have a very special guest with us today. Dr. Tarika Barrett who is the Ceo of girls who code tarika I I'm just so thrilled to have you here. It's such an honor. We would love. For you to share your cubicle to Ceo Story first like how did how did you become Ceo of such an incredible nonprofit. But in addition to that you know I would also love for you to share with the listeners just a brief glimpse into the work that you guys do at girls who code in case people are not familiar with your organization.


00:33.85

Tarika Barrett

Yeah, Ellen it's such a pleasure to be here and I'm happy to talk to you about my leadership journey. The None thing I have to say is that I'm just so proud to be the Ceo of girls who code you know we're an organization working to close a gender gap in tech. But you know I also bring other perspectives to this I'm Jamaican American I'm the proud daughter of immigrants you know a black woman an educator and so much of that shapes how I approach my work. Um, you know the quick thing I'll say is that you know I stand on the shoulder of generations of inspiration. All these incredible women who got me to where I am today. And I continue to be inspired by our girls and young women who propel me to move this work forward. Um, and you know I have so much backstory I can share with you about sort of you know how I came to be in terms of my grandmother dropping out of school and working on the family farm or my mom being the first in our family to go to college. And to get a graduate degree so much of that shapes this moment. Um, but you know when I think about the direct throughline in terms of being the Ceo of girls who code it's been a deep commitment to issues of equity and access and education my entire career. You know I always luckily had a mom who instilled in me the importance of kind of going into spaces seeing the work that needed to be done but wasn't happening and believing that I had the agency to be the change I wanted to see and I point to like None big kind of professional event that propelled me to kind of say yes to girls who code. And it was very much working at the New York City department of education where you know I had a chance to work with kids who frankly, many people had written off because they were so far behind academically with not a lot of chances to get back on track and you know one of the things we also did was build new schools and I had a chance to actually. Lead the team that designed and launched a first of its kind high school focus on software engineering at the time it was going to be this big deal. A part of the mayor's plan to make New York City a tech hub. But in that moment as I led this team I also learned that it was possibly going to be what we called a quote unquote. Greened school which would mean that kids would actually have to test in to be accepted and as an educator I knew that if we were going to rely only on test scores kids of color wouldn't have a shot they would be at such a disadvantage and so in that moment I harness my leadership to really. You know, fight against screening rallying support to open that school to any kid interested in learning programming and you know I'm really proud to say that now any teen in New York City can apply to the academy for software engineering and for the kids who are there 95% of them are graduating on time.


06:05.83

Tarika Barrett

But I share this story with you Ellen because it's such a reminder for me in my own journey that you have to exist at the intersection of bravery and opportunity and you always have to disrupt the status quo wherever possible you know and I think you know this is a moment where equity in. Tech education is possible where closing the gender gap is actually possible and I knew I had to be a part of that change and so you know the other thing that's a little crazy and I know we'll probably talk about this who says yes to becoming a Ceo during a pandemic. Apparently that's me I raised my hand and you know I'm happy to kind of talk more about. Why I said yes, but for listeners who want to know just a little bit more about girls who code as I mentioned where you know an international nonprofit and our mission is to close to gender gap in entry level tech jobs by 2030 and so we are leading this movement to inspire educate. And equip students who identify as girls or nonbinary with the computing skills to take on none century opportunities and we do this through a number of programs we have code at home as well as our free after school clubs that really get girls early when they can get excited about computer science and then we have this array of summer programming. That builds on that initial interest and gets girls to consider see us in college and then you know we haven't forgotten about our college students and you know our young women going into the workforce we have programs like our college loops. Our girls who code talks our hiring summits and work prep that all aim to cement pathways. You know into tech for young women by addressing this growing gender gap in tech, we're empowering our young people to really think about the thriving and exciting careers that come with tech the ones that are going to actually translate into frankly the upward mobility and improve quality of life that. You know, come with those kinds of feels so that's sort of the girls who code in a nutshell.


10:34.12

ellenyin

Wow I Could I mean I could really listen to you all day. Not only because you have the most beautiful voice I don't know if anyone's ever told you that I hear an audio book in your future. Maybe your own podcast. So but I'm so.


10:11.93

Tarika Barrett

Um, oh my God you're so kind. Oh my gosh you're too kind.


11:09.78

ellenyin

Impressed with your story but your story really makes my heart seem in many ways Tarika because I relate so much to your background being the daughter of immigrants being an immigrant myself and you know navigating life as a firstgeneration American I think is just such a unique experience which I definitely relate to and what you're saying there. But also one one key point I wanted to pull out just from your own story I Love that you made ah made it. Ah, a note to say you know I stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me and I I think you're the None guest to really bring that to light for us and I think. For me and I would love to hear your take on this too I've always had so not an issue necessarily but I've always felt like that term like I'm self-made isn't quite accurate right? because even if you are self-driven or you don't come from wealth and you have created you know wealth.


12:06.17

Tarika Barrett

Right.


13:00.22

ellenyin

For yourself which absolutely is you know, an incredible feat I Do think that it's It's erroneous to say that you're self-made because so much of your success comes from your community right? Your your family your networks the education system you grow up in your access to that So that was just.


12:46.19

Tarika Barrett

Oh my gosh.


13:02.49

Tarika Barrett

I'm with you on that I'm with you on that and I would you know plus one your community made Definitely not self-made for me Women-m made community-made I have had so many people instill their values. You know.


13:37.44

ellenyin

And.


13:29.41

Tarika Barrett

My grandmother graduated you know didn't graduate. She had a None grade education when she dropped out and the notion that she in spite of her education being cut short could still instill this idea that somehow education could still pry open the doors of opportunity. She did that with her kids in the most subtle and not so subtle ways. And that went all the way down to me in terms of being able to sit where I am now. So I so resonate with everything you just said because I definitely don't think it's about being self-made. It's very much community made and for me frankly, all the incredible women who've given me so much.


15:14.46

ellenyin

Yeah, absolutely and I mean I think your story just speaks to the miracle of how much change can happen within just a few generations right? How different your life looks like compared to your grandmother's life and what she dreamed of as possibilities you made into reality.


15:00.17

Tarika Barrett

Absolutely.


15:14.51

Tarika Barrett

Oh my gosh goosebumps 2 generations later she would never believe that I would be doing what I'm doing today so Ellen. That's just a profound statement and it so touches my heart because that's that's definitely my journey.


16:12.14

ellenyin

Yes, and I and I know that your story is so inspiring to so many people and I think at the core of the work that you do with girls who code making. Education more accessible and really encouraging women to step into fields that historically have not been well represented by women. Um I'd love to talk to you a little bit more about that piece and as you all know if you're listening in today's case study is really focused on how girls who code.


17:10.41

ellenyin

Ah, how the organization was able to increase their enrollment by over two hundred percent for their flagship program due to some strategic pivots that they made during the pandemic and as we dive into that case study I want to kind of preframe this conversation for our listeners by saying yes you know terika is. And incredible leader for a nonprofit organization. But even if you don't exist in the nonprofit world so much of the the conversation we're going to have today can still be applied to your business if you are in the education space at all. So if you are a speaker if you are a course. Creator if you are a coach or a mentor or anybody who you know exists to help pass on knowledge and guidance and mentorship this conversation applies to you so I just wanted to put that context out there and and for you guys to listen with that frame of reference in mind. The none question I have for you tareka is. So I know that one of the the key pivots that you guys made was making your program your flagship program more flexible and also accessible by adding in virtual programming whereas previously. It was only in person I would love to know. A some context on what that flagship program looked like before and after but b the second part of that conversation I really want to understand is what do you see as the primary obstacles or barriers that are present in. Accessibility to education both from an enrollment side like getting people into the programs but also on the completion side for students to actually go through the whole program and successfully complete what they set out to do.


20:01.21

Tarika Barrett

Right Ellen you asked a lot of important questions and I will definitely try to know? No I love it I love it I'm going to try to get to all of it I guess I'll just start by saying you know I said this before but.


20:43.60

ellenyin

Yes, I'm sorry with a little bit of an avo those.


20:36.93

Tarika Barrett

I became Ceo of girls of code at a really high point in the pandemic at a time when our students needed us the most and you know this pandemic has frankly exacerbated all of these challenges that we've been working on as an education now for a decade. And it revealed these massive gaps in terms of education and support for our most marginalized students right? low-income student students of color and you asked me what did this flagship program look like before for us it was our baby right? The None thing we ever do picture the start of girls to code with 20 girls in a borrowed conference room. You know, coding from 9 am to four pm and then that expanded and at at our height pre- pandemic endemic we were talking about eighty of these programs across the country. You know girls housed in partner companies doing the same thing 1600 girls total and then the pandemic hits. And we freak out as every organization and company did because we're like wait a second. This is our flagship. This is a thing that we think is deeply transformative. What are we going to do and you know I always say the pandemic gave no gifts but it really pushed our thinking Ellen around what needed to happen. We knew in this moment. Understand that half of our community at girls who code comes from historically underrepresented groups. So kids who look like me and grew up just like I did in terms of who we serve we knew in that moment that they couldn't be further marginalized and sidelined we had to make sure that not only would they survive could we help them to thrive. And so the none thing we did was to survey our community. We asked our girls right? and our young women. What are you experiencing? What do you need? and so you know to your point in the framing of your question we decided to prioritize accessibility and flexibility because we knew that had to be central. The kinds of outcomes we knew we wanted to see with our community. So we're talking about live and asynchronous instruction project-based learning group work because remember that these are girls who have myriad challenges from an unreliable wi-fi. Computers that we realized that they were sharing or didn't have to begin with the lack of a quiet place to work caregiving responsibilities that they were grappling with and remember during the pandemic these were girls especially if they came from black and brown communities who were grappling with the loss of family members to the virus. So. There were all these things that we saw. That we knew we had to step in and be able to support and the headline that you shared that I'm so proud of is that we pushed ourselves. We think we landed on something that's best in class in terms of virtual learning and the result was that we scaled our program in a way that we would have never done.


26:15.39

Tarika Barrett

Had the pandemic not pushed us to do so so instead of serving 1600 girls we served close to None summer when we pushed ourselves to do that and frankly, more girls than we had ever served in poor and rural communities which made us so proud.


26:47.53

Tarika Barrett

And for us it didn't end there because to be honest, our growth engine hasn't been that flagship because while wonderful. It was a smaller number of girls. We also thought about how to support our free after school clubs model where we reached the most girls and students and it meant helping our facilitators who lead them. Giving them resources and tools so that they could run these sessions either in person remotely or in a hybrid model and we just had to keep thinking about how to provide that support and the truth is you asked about obstacles and barriers as well as sort of you know how you address issues of enrollment and completion. You know so much of it is just making sure that those supports were actually in place and that our students would be able to you know gain this from their facilitators and that we'd be able to equip them with everything that they possibly needed and you know I think that. Making sure that our outreach team was getting out there and identified girls who needed them the most that we were looking at title one schools that we were constantly thinking about who didn't have access to this and it's pushed us to even think about self-pace programming you know ways in which we can engage even more young people during this time and so it's been incredibly. Rewarding but it didn't you know the other thing I would say is that we learned lessons that okay we know some girls are going to have to go back to in-person instruction but we actually think that what we provided was so strong that it will be a model for serving all students some of whom were never their needs were never really met in a huge way. By in-person instruction and in terms of our numbers. We instead of serving 450000 girls to date. We now can say we've served None including growing our alumni base from None to 115000 and the other group I want to point to we surveyed our alums. Really early in the pandemic because we were very worried about them and we learned right away that 30% of them had lost their internship opportunities and 40% of our seniors had had their full-time job offers rescinded that was such a big deal. We also knew we had high numbers. In terms of caregiving and other responsibilities folks who had to stop everything they were doing in terms of their plans to be able to get a job and help their families that also propelled us when you talk about lessons learned and how organizations can make pivots to decide to deepen our work in the college programming as well as workforce development space. It led to us holding our none ever hiring summit and Ellen we don't know how to do that we didn't know how to do that. We know how to do it now. We held a hiring summit and we actually did two of them. We had 2000 students and dozens of partner companies come to meet these young women who all of a sudden remember.


32:25.83

Tarika Barrett

Don't have access to potential employers the same way that they did also have an incredibly unique set of skills and talents that we want employers to tap into but don't sometimes get overlooked and so you know it was just this wonderful move that we made and we're so happy. That we are doing that kind of work in the workforce development space to really help cement pathways into tech for young women.


33:44.42

ellenyin

It is incredible I mean truly the the growth in spite of hardship. The number of lives impacted and like you said you know the pandemic of course no one wishes that that happened but it is in many ways has been such a catalyst for. Innovation and change that I think you know has has ripple effects for years and decades to come and you know what's interesting um about what you said in terms of Flexibility. So You know you said you started implementing For example, live and asynchronous. Learning or teaching. Can you talk to us about what that means I think a lot of the educators perhaps listening especially course creators I'm thinking of particularly they may be hearing that and going what does that actually look like what does that mean.


34:40.79

Tarika Barrett

Yeah, no I Love that Question. It's super pragmatic because if you think about it and you think about how schools are structured. Everything is based on that you know person young person or adult being in front of you and getting all of that instruction in a live way. That's how we did it for our summer programming. That's what it looked like for our free after school clubs. It was always predicated on that in-person connection which we still think is central to that sisterhood which is a core value of ours but we had to stop and say how do we have that core value of sisterhood come to life in a way that allows our community to not. Have to all plug in at the same time. All you know, be present because when we surveyed our girls and young women. We saw tremendous variability. What do you do when one girl is like I actually have a job and I can't come for the session at that time and another one saying. Oh I can't do it that way I'd love to participate in this internship. But in fact I have this commitment. What can I Do You can't say to them. Well, you can't fit into our Rigid mold of what learning and exposure looks like you turn it on its head and say wait a second. How many hours can you give what would it look like for us to so to have.


37:04.10

Tarika Barrett

Folks do some of this on their own That's the asynchronous part and then to come back together for some moments right? where we can share and especially around the sisterhood support one another make sure that folks get that sense of camaraderie and it helps build that resilience. How do you do? both of those things and then we added things like advisories or office hours to make sure that we were also catching folks in those gaps and listen this is a huge learning endeavor. We're all kind of figuring this out. But. 1 of the things we learned after our first summer of making the pivot with our flag flag flagship summer Immersion Program we surveyed our girls at the end and they said they were equally likely to want to pursue a career in computer science after a twoweek virtual experience same numbers as the seven week in-person immersion. So that was just so heartening I have to be honest I didn't believe it at none I was like are you sure can you crunch these numbers again, but it was so energizing to know that yes you can achieve you know similar things through a different modality and I don't think you sugarcoat and say well it's going to be perfect. You're not going to have any bumps in the road. I think that for us, we constantly put in so many safeguards and checks to make sure that our participants are having a good experience along the way and that we're troubleshooting and making sure that they have you know the guidance to support the sisterhood. They need to be successful.


40:28.90

ellenyin

That that was super helpful and you know you've brought up this this concept of surveying and market research listening right? getting community feedback I think that that piece cannot be overlooked because it seems like a core piece of your so of. Really your approach to all the work that you guys do at girls who code is listening to the people who are actually going to be benefiting from your programs. So I would love to know in the beginning when you were sending out these surveys to your alumni and to your current. You know, um, younger students. How are you reaching them? were you sending them email surveys. Um, can you give us any glimpse into like I guess what I'm trying to ask is I think there there may be listeners who think oh like this is this is a missing piece for me and my business I'm not reaching out and really serving people and understanding what their needs are but then they may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of you know what is the best way to survey people. Such that I will actually receive. Ah, you know a large volume of feedback. Yes responses but exactly so what are what are your best practices in terms of like the the channels through which you reach them. How did you structure you know either the length or the the content of the forms. Did you follow up with anyone 1 to None over calls.


41:46.31

Tarika Barrett

Oh my gosh.


42:57.26

ellenyin

Anything you can share. There would be great.


42:23.97

Tarika Barrett

Yeah I mean that's a great question I think one of the things we've been deeply blessed by is a community that we have a strong connection to that have a strong sense of affinity you know with girls who code the sisterhood has been so good to us and when we tend to put our feelers out and ask we do have responses. But the thing I would say to your listeners is also who are the stakeholders you're trying to get for us because of the nature of our programming. We do have multiple stakeholders in some cases. It could be the facilitators running clubs who we might reach out to and ask very pointed questions about what are your needs. What do you need to be successful. What does enrollment look like right now. Are you even able to host your club so there was a wealth of information that we could get for the front from the front lines folks who were actually running clubs. But then when it came to the alumni data that I shared with you that absolutely required outreach to alums. And historically we tend to use None modalities depending but we sometimes send surveys via email very often. But we also have found believe it or not depending on your audience text messaging is super useful as a way to get people to respond. Really quickly to something that you want and I think less is always more in the way of surveys because we had hunches and we used the surveys as a way to refine those of course you're always hoping to gain new information or a new perspective that you weren't contemplating but a lot of it was already suspecting the ways in which our community would have needs. Around wi-fi computers access quiet place to work where the survey became deeply critical from a programmatic perspective was figuring out For example when we wanted to launch our work prep program. It became really hard to figure out this was something that we were going to partner with a company. That would host these young women in a virtual way and figuring out what time of like when could you do this program. Are you on spring break. Are you not do you have the time are you working so that became really critical to land on something that was going to be really effective. And I think be iterative. Don't be afraid to send it again and the other thing that's really critical that we sometimes leverage would be incentives all right. We might say we want to hear from you and we have a gift card or we want to do some other way to celebrate you as you give us critical information to allow our program to be successful.


47:43.88

ellenyin

That's really interesting and I just want to echo what you said about sms messaging text marketing right? it it is such an underutilized but so such a powerful Channel I Mean if you think about it just even in your anecdotal day-to-day Life. You're much more likely to open a text than probably an email because email you know you get a mix of personal communication business communication and a lot of spam. So. It's easy to overlook. It's easy to overlook the pile in your inbox, but it's much.


47:52.19

Tarika Barrett

Um, right. Absolutely.


48:40.82

ellenyin

Less likely that you are going to overlook the text that come into you know to your phone because it's traditionally a channel that you kind of reserve for people. You actually know right? who are actually texting you with their numbers. So I think that's really brilliant. Um, with text I Just one follow-up question on the text messaging when you would send out you know.


48:24.51

Tarika Barrett

Exactly.


49:17.80

ellenyin

Like you said a simple short and sweet text would you just ask like 1 specific question and then if they answered follow up with the next one or was it like a series of questions like what are the greatest barriers for you to you know participate in the program, Etc, etc and all at once.


49:11.53

Tarika Barrett

Yeah I mean we used Different. We've used a platform that allowed us to I think ask a bunch at once but I would have to kind of talk to the team specifically about what they used for this route again I think we've also it depends on where your folks are Because. I would say our alums because they're kind of plugged into that college space or that workspace being able to reach them by email is completely within the flow of what they would do winners for our students, especially as we wanted to verify information about you know, enrolling in the program making sure that they.


50:14.97

Tarika Barrett

Ready for day one text messaging can be so vital because it's like just in time easy to respond really quickly and keeping those answers questions really brief meant that we would get exactly the information that we needed.


51:10.44

ellenyin

Awesome! That insight is really helpful and by the way if you're listening to this and you're totally new to text messaging as a channel for your business. A great platform that we personally use in our business that we recommend is norbie so I'll just throw in. You know a little insert here so that you guys can learn a little bit more about their software program. To Rika so continuing on with the actual strategy of enrollment. So obviously you've talked us through from a programmatic standpoint how you guys were able to make changes that ultimately increased your enrollment but I'm curious. Do you think that the the 200% increase in enrollment was driven. Solely by the changes in programming or do you feel like you also um, you know implement a creative marketing initiatives that that brought in new enrollments from people who perhaps had not heard of girls who code before I'm thinking specifically of you know. For example, the really creative partnership that you guys did with doja cat and for for girls who code like was that a part of the the strategy that allowed that enrollment increase or did that kind of come after and you feel like most of this increase was attributed to your programming changes.


52:56.85

Tarika Barrett

Yeah, well listen I am excited to talk about Dojacat always but we but that came after in fairness although all of it helps and contributes to that I think for your listeners especially as you're thinking about you know their organizations or companies. One of the big things for us with.


53:33.43

Tarika Barrett

You know that enrollment we talked about the biggest obstacle for us in scaling had to do with geographical like restrictions and boundaries because the way that our program was designed was that you know we would find girls in a given community near partner company and it was all about making sure that we could. Kind of fill that classroom with that partner in a specific geography when covid hitd all of those geographical barriers fell away and it was deeply liberating being able to say oh my goodness. Your partner classroom is going to have girls from here and they're going to come from all over the country which of course are. Corporate partners loved because they want that exposure to it was also a way you know our international programming we had to scale back expansion during covid given all the constraints but we also for the None time ever opened up that summer programming to international students. And it was incredible to also know that we had international students alongside you know, domestic students learning so that was absolutely powerful and for us, you know our marketing continues to be predominantly grassroots in terms of staff members in different communities making sure to find our girls. Who most need this kind of programming so we're talking about community centers libraries nonprofit organizations especially as we try to reach more black and brown girls girls from historically underrepresented backgrounds and so that work very much happens in that way but to your earlier point about doja cat. Also in addition to working so hard to you know teach more girls computer science. We are constantly leading culture campaigns that are all about changing the face of who belongs in tech because we know that girls and parents are going to be jazzed about our programs if they don't see a place for their daughter within the industry. And so much of the things that we have done over the years be it our partnership with penguin to launch about a book about book series rather about women in tech aimed at babies through middle schoolers. Or for example, we partnered with american girl to launch a gamerdal named Courtney. Um, or with Lizzo that blew my mind I was like this is not happening and who created an inspirational music video for our girls. You know we've worked with Leda Hill you know around missing code where we showed what the internet would look like if there were no female coders and then right before doja we did this incredible campaign call make that change. With a bold new message for girls and young women that you know when you pursue a career in tech you can not only make the change you want to see for your community and the world but you can change your personal financial trajectory too and it was this glamorous amazing. You know, um.


58:58.73

Tarika Barrett

Basically campaign where you know girls could see young women who were in tech who looked fabulous and were also doing really fabulous things and changing the world and then of course the culminating thing of this past year which finally gave me credibility in the eyes of my teenage kids was the doja cat collaboration. You know, think about it. There's no world in which as a nonprofit you think you're ever going to be collaborating with dojacat but it was doja code the world's none ever codable music video which was just incredible. You can just imagine so it's her viral sensation woman. And you can go in. You know when you do this, you can change the color of her nails. You can change the background you can have her appear out of thin air and you do it through basic code and so being able to give so many more girls that notion of huh I never thought about doing that or I never saw myself doing that. Being able to collaborate with doge on this was incredible. We had over we've had over None um you know fuse and I think already over None coding projects. It's just it's our wildest dreams come true and we are so grateful that we were able to put you know tech front and center. And kind of tell everyone like you belong this is going to be a path that you should pursue especially because of what it means for upward mobility improve quality of life. All of that is possible in terms of careers in tech and we want our girls and young women to have that.


01:02:25.94

ellenyin

That is so cool and I could not agree more that you can't be what you can't see right? So it's it's like when others can.


01:02:08.65

Tarika Barrett

That's right.


01:02:48.12

ellenyin

Present to you? Oh this was a possibility for me suddenly a door opens an aha moment goes. Oh I I didn't know that that was a path for me, but this is a possibility that I can pursue which is actually you know we just went through a brand refresh here at cubicle to Ceo and our new tagline is pursue. What's possible and I feel like what you just shared. There is is so in line with that and. Our listeners I just want to pull a key takeaway from what tareka shared which is that you know so much of the exposure to new students new parents who could benefit from girls who code and their programs comes from reaching these young women where they already exist. So it's not them. You know, just trying to I guess like only rely on cultivating their own audience. It's going into audiences that have already been built.


01:04:29.20

ellenyin

Or them. So this concept of borrowed traffic that I talk a lot about in marketing and thinking even outside the box like with Doja cat right? Surety has such a loyal following and such a loyal audience and so being able to think about okay the the viewers who are already engaging with that music and that content.


01:04:32.39

Tarika Barrett

That's right.


01:05:08.40

ellenyin

How do we tap into something that's already relevant to them and then build off of that by offering this new way to engage with something that they already enjoy engaging with and I think that is my key takeaway from what you just shared is thinking about Okay, what are. What are brands or what are personalities that are maybe not necessarily directly related to your offer right? because music is not necessarily directly related to code. But how can you? How can you partner with people who.


01:05:21.79

Tarika Barrett

That's right.


01:06:16.48

ellenyin

Who have that parallel that you know that that parallel um in terms of sharing a similar audience. How can you work with those people and those partners or those brands to reach the right audience. So I love that.


01:06:04.21

Tarika Barrett

I Would agree and I think for us it was also about reminding our community that they're creative right? They're passionate about what they care about. They're the incredible change makers and so you know sometimes I think we still have this weird dichotomy where you can either be.. It's tech for harm or tech for good nothing in between right? Especially when you think about sort of these male leaders who are out there kind of using Tech frankly for personal whim and for things that they want to do and Ourro Human see that right and they think to themselves.


01:07:17.61

Tarika Barrett

Don't want to be that and so for us, it's being able to hold up Adoja or hold up someone else and say no, you really can follow your passions and your creativity and change the world while also being in tech and doing the incredible things and we know we need their diversity of perspective because of the way that tech. Touches every intersection of our lives Health care Politics safety. We need to make sure that our girls and young women have a seat at the table because Tech is as good as the diverse group of people who are building it and I can give you countless examples of where. That has gone terribly wrong and we know that when we have you know the voices of our community that's going to continue to change and tech will actually represent the needs of the communities that use it which is critical.


01:09:26.10

ellenyin

Absolutely And I think it was even interesting. 1 of the initiatives that you you know, just briefly mentioned that we didn't really dive deeper on but that really intrigued me when I was listening is you know your initiative that you talked about like what would a world look like without. The women who code like if if we were to remove all the code that had been created by women. What would the internet. What would our experience in the world look like that's so interesting. How were you able to pull that off I'm just curious like from a simulation perspective like what did that look like.


01:09:26.41

Tarika Barrett

Yes, that's right.


01:09:50.95

Tarika Barrett

I wish we could pause and show everyone the video so we kind of made sure more than anything Ellen that we were asking that provocative question right? because we forget you know you said it you can't be. You can't see we say it all the time at girls girls who code. Girls grow up learning about Albert Einstein you know Mark Zuckerberg's Steve Jobs all these folks not the Katherine Johnsons and the ada lovelaces or all these incredible women pioneers and so in terms of how we came at this whole missing code video with Leda Hill was that we definitely knew our audience and so it was. All about you know a younger audience kind of looking at a screen that was frankly, busted like all of a sudden the letters fell off you know messages that you were trying to send were getting cut off. We used really nice visual representations of like you know, common things that happened to you when you have an internet problem. But layering on more and more images and especially images of girls and women so that we could kind of underscore that the contributions of women to tech are so many and frankly, not seen and undervalued. But in this moment we're gonna put it right there and say girls who code like. Make sure you understand that women have a place here and so we think it was really effective and cut through.


01:12:52.92

ellenyin

That is so powerful I'm curious. Is there a link that your your team could send over after that we could include okay I have to see this? yeah.


01:12:28.41

Tarika Barrett

Absolutely absolutely I'm sure we can send that to you I mean don't ask be careful what you ask for? then I'm gonna send you Lizzo doja you know light of Hill Everything we'll send you everything.


01:13:19.10

ellenyin

All of it I want all of it. Please do? Okay, wonderful if you are listening to this right now please like take a moment to scroll below in the show notes and click and watch all of these incredible. Initiatives because I think of anything regardless of your own personal interest in code or tech this is going to teach you how to think outside of the box in terms of how you reach your ideal audience how you can present information in a new and engaging way and I think that you know for me personally I love. Getting to see what other people create it sparks so many ideas in me. So thank you for those resources I'm so excited to share them with our community. Um I feel like it would be ah you know a disservice also not to talk about not only the impact that you know increased enrollment has had. In the lives of your students but also how it has I'm assuming all this newfound interest has attracted more partners whether it's corporate partners sponsors um, just community um supporters and advocates how how has your I guess revenue may not be the right word because it's a nonprofit but you know. Our promise on the show is that you as listeners when you show up each week with our guests. You're going to learn None specific revenue growth strategy for your business and I think what what Dr Barrett has shared today is absolutely in line with how you can better shape your programming. Um, to increase enrollment which of course then increases your business revenue but from a nonprofit perspective. What were some of the positive impacts you saw and increased both financial and perhaps other types of support that your organization received.


01:16:03.33

Tarika Barrett

Yeah, such a great question I think that you know as I mentioned I became Ceo during the pandemic and you know with a shift in leadership. You know our incredible founder and predecessor transitioning you know to chair of the organization. At that time even though she has a different role now. It was a lot right? and anyone who is listening to your show. You know that leadership transitions are among the hardest things that companies and organizations have to go through and that revenue is often very much top of mind even for nonprofits and. 1 of the big things that we were really worried about was covid and we even experienced really early in the you know everything was uncertain and we saw some of our key partners. You know worry about being able to renew in a particular way because they were regrouping as everyone tried to figure out what was happening. I am proud to report. However, that things have remained incredibly strong financially for the nonprofit which I feel like we are so blessed and I do think that some of it has to do with how you tell the story of your impact and how you tell the story of. Frankly, the innovation the pivots that we've been able to make to be responsive to the needs of our community I think it's also making sure that folks understand your work and its relevance at a time when there's so much noise in terms of competing need and how folks are getting at a given problem. I would point to 2 things that I think were immensely promising in terms of partner support both in terms of just like Yago and like we want to fund you to do more of this I think the scale that you talked about Ellen in terms of being able to pivot a program that served 1600 girls to. You know over 5000 girls was a big move I think being able to even go None step further and think about self-paced programming as another you know, aspect of virtual work offering even more advanced coursework is something that partners remain very interested in understanding and supporting. But the thing that probably won't surprise you is that a lot of our partners are particularly excited about our work. That's closest to the pipeline for them because when we heard that our you know alums were losing internships and jobs and that we stepped into that gap in a powerful way. Our corporate partners understood how important that was you know for the work that they believe in and the mission that they're aligned with but frankly also for their bottom line too. The more that they support what we're doing the more they're going to have the talent that they want to see and for me in my role as Ceo.


01:21:27.99

Tarika Barrett

It's developing programs that very much are about workforce development and get our community those entry level jobs and beyond. But it's also a conversation about shifting hearts and minds about who belongs in tech pushing our corporate partners to broaden their scope around who they look for. In terms of a quote unquote qualified candidate or pushing them to think about academic credentialing and not being overly reliant on that because they keep leaving talent on the table. You know we talk about it all the time but that hiring summit with 2000 of our students. If we were using the traditional sort of tech qualifications for these students. Many of them would have been completely overlooked because of the over reliance on you know, certain credentials or an ivy league background. You know I myself went to a city university of New York school for undergrad. Alongside other kids from working class families I wouldn't have a shot when you think about this and so so much of it is opening up that conversation and really pushing our companies to think very differently about that but together I really do think that so much of it girls of code we pride ourselves on being deeply innovative and responsive. And being able to be in open dialogue with our partners so they understand the pivots we're making and why it's critical that they continue to support us financially to be able to drive the kinds of outcomes that we want to see and I think you know things like the. Fact that we've been able to pilot work prep internship programs for young women or have 2000 young women at a hiring summit all of those are indicators of being deeply responsive to a problem and so I think they've really supported that.


01:25:13.86

ellenyin

Incredible I feel like my biggest takeaway from you today honestly is that that all the work that you do is so collaborative and so rooted in open dialogue like you just mentioned. And I think that this is such an important lesson for all of us, especially as business owners especially for many of our community members who may be listening in and work as a solo preneur right? where you're kind of it's you yourself. And I right? like in your and your in your space every day. It's really easy to start creating in a vacuum right? where you don't really consider the feedback of anyone other than what's existing between you know your None ears and your brain and so I think that if you can learn anything from.


01:26:47.46

ellenyin

Ah, from tarika today and the work that they that you know that girls who code have been able to successfully implement to increase their enrollment I think it's just looking at what what opportunities do you have to ask. Right questions to the people that you're serving to all stakeholders like you mentioned whether it's just your clients and students or whether it's other people who have some sort of involvement in your business. How can you bring them into that creation process and how can you reach more people also through those strategic partnerships. So. Thank you so much for just that wisdom and insight that you've shared and I just have to say I'm gonna put this out as a request. Maybe maybe it'll happen someday. But None thing you mentioned about um, you know how we grow up learning about like you said like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein I didn't I honestly. Didn't really even think about that. But you're right like. So so many of the names that you mentioned I've never really had any education on on their contributions and it reminded me of a film I'm sure you saw hidden figures. Um, yes I love I love that movie and I feel like there should be a film made about women.


01:28:03.61

Tarika Barrett

Um, great. Absolutely.


01:28:32.23

Tarika Barrett

Yeah.


01:29:07.62

ellenyin

Coders like tech like let's create a hidden figures for that. This particular you know industry I think that would be just such a cool project to see in the future.


01:28:47.69

Tarika Barrett

Of course and we use hidden figures all the time because you know so we have this beautiful office and 1 of our rooms is named after Katherine Johnson the mathematician right? who was set control in that and then you have Mary Jackson who's also in that we actually create women in tech spotlights and so part of.


01:29:32.46

ellenyin

Um, oh my goodness. Yeah.


01:29:26.99

Tarika Barrett

What our curriculum includes is that every time that our girls come together in community or our non-binary students. They learn about a woman in tech because as you said you can't be what you can't see and so that sisterhood is that is also central that constant reminder like women before you have done it. You will continue to do it because. This wasn't always the case in the 1980 s women all made up almost half of the computing industry. So this is a trend. We absolutely can reverse and so I'm so glad you mentioned that because we're constantly elevating incredible women in tech so that our community can see them.


01:31:09.90

ellenyin

That's beautiful. Well my final question to you today terika. Um, besides asking, you know where where others can support the work that you all are doing at girls who code my final question for you specifically is what does being a Ceo mean to you.


01:31:04.79

Tarika Barrett

Oh my gosh. Um, in this moment I can say that being a Ceo means for me that our girls see me I said yes to this opportunity because I knew what it would mean for a black woman to lead. You know one of the most incredible you know girls organizations on the planet and so for me being Ceo is visibility for me. It's the hope that I inspire others to let them know that they can be doing whatever they're doing right now have whatever background they have right now. But. Does not define what they can do in the future.


01:32:47.16

ellenyin

I Love that answer representation is so so important. Thank you so much Terrika and um, as ah as a last thought to our listeners where can they find girls who code and support the work that you guys are doing.


01:32:40.91

Tarika Barrett

Yeah, please visit us at Http://girlslicode.com we have resources there you know for any girl or student who identifies a girl or nonbinary so they can take advantage of that you can figure out ways to bring a girls of code club to your community. You can support us financially by donating.. There's so much there so please feel free to visit our website.


01:33:57.40

ellenyin

Amazing. Make sure to check that out and again a reminder to check out the show notes for all of those incredible links and ideas that you can take from the creative work that girls who code has put out into the world. Thank you so much for your time to rika.


01:33:50.59

Tarika Barrett

It was such a pleasure Ellen I really enjoyed it.


01:34:30.86

ellenyin

Okay, we're gonna pause real quick before I end the recording and record our lightning round which is just 3 really fast questions just for fun. Are you ready for this? Okay, all right tareka is in the hot seat for our lightning round. We're going to ask her 3 quick questions and whatever comes to mind just say say what comes to mind all right question number 1 torika. What phone app. Do you use the most.


01:34:51.29

Tarika Barrett

Phone app Whatsapp It does that count. Oh gosh. So then I have to tell my real secret Whatsapp to call my mom but I use stylebook to pick out my outfits every day which I know sounds ridiculous, but it's a catalog of every piece of clothing that I own every shoe everything.


01:35:29.36

ellenyin

Um, yes, any app on your phone like which one do you open and and spend the most time on.


01:35:49.00

ellenyin

Oh.


01:35:30.31

Tarika Barrett

And this keeps me super creative and I can pick an outfit every day and also know when I wore it so it is like my favorite thing to be able to do I did it during the pandemic because when I was at home I you know needed to figure out what I was going to do with my brain in addition to working all the time and I have not regretted. That insane project that is now so easy to use and.


01:36:45.38

ellenyin

I Feel like we just learned a huge life hack I've never heard of the top before I am so excited. Wow I mean it is a massive undertaking to catalog your entire wardrobe but that is so cool I Love that? Okay, well yes I.


01:36:35.55

Tarika Barrett

It gets easy after you do it like once you do it then you're just adding it because you you know most of the time you can find that piece online and you just take a pick on your phone and add it. It was the ancient pieces of clothing that I'm like ah do I Really want to catalog this but I did it.


01:37:31.20

ellenyin

Yes, well if if you're watching this on video Tarika looks fabulous today. So now I know know I know your secrets right? So I'll definitely be downloading the app. Okay so question number 2


01:37:18.75

Tarika Barrett

Ah, you're too kind.


01:38:07.38

ellenyin

I Thought this was a perfect question to ask you particularly since you're focused in education. Um, well okay originally I was going to ask you? What is the lowest grade you've ever gotten in class and like what made that class difficult for you. So if you want to answer it that way you can or you could just answer like what class.


01:37:58.85

Tarika Barrett

Yep.


01:38:41.32

ellenyin

Did you struggle with most growing up because I feel like it's important for people to see that even if you maybe didn't do well academically it doesn't have to indicate you know your future success and what you're able to contribute.


01:38:27.45

Tarika Barrett

Yeah, no I will be completely transparent because I think it's sort of ironic given the work that I do now but when I was younger I hated math and I also went to I remember my high school math I had a teacher who literally said raise your hand if you understand it and it was democracy rules. Like so of course it created like a terrible situation where no one would confess that they didn't understand what she was talking about, but it also kind of underscored that there are ways to teach and there are ways to teach and I think the way that we come at coding with our community at girls who code it tells girls that you don't have to be Perfect. You can get it wrong the whole point of coding is that it's a lot of trial and error. But when girls grow up thinking that they have to be flawless. It's so hard for them to embrace a field where imperfection is completely fined and it's and it's expected as you hone your skills and get better and better at what you do And so. I'm happy to sort of bravely say that I did not love math growing up I have a Ph D now I run an organization that you know teaches girls Computer Science. So You can totally do that and I think it's so critical for our girls to know that not every chapter of your you know, be it academic or professional journey has to be marked with. Stellar everything. It's okay to fail. In fact, we embrace it and we encourage it to happen as fast as it can so that we can learn and rebuild and do even better.


01:41:47.00

ellenyin

1000% and I will just add as an extra bit of encouragement you know in in high school I also did not like math but I remember like failing physics tests over and over again and um and I Actually my degree is a bachelor. Of Science and I you know I'm not a science girl and like even in my professional career I've never done anything in science. But that's academically what I graduated with a degree and so I'm just saying anything possible. Anything is possible. Okay, last question you're crushing this. What are what are you.


01:42:02.97

Tarika Barrett

Amazing.


01:42:57.54

ellenyin

Currently reading I feel like you probably have a really great book recommendation for us. So I'd love to know.


01:42:29.43

Tarika Barrett

My gosh. Okay, so the problem is I have multiple books that I'm reading always a problem. Um I want to say it's called one was a colleague who gave it to me I think it's Olga dieys trying which I might be reading if I'm I hope I'm not getting that title wrong. But because I'm also a sci-fi buff I am rereading rosewood by Tady Thompson which is really good. It is alien invasion set in Nigeria so I want to throw that one out there and then I always try to have like something in my bag that keeps me a little bit meditative and grounded and the name of that one I am is escaping me.


01:44:02.92

ellenyin

Whoa.


01:43:45.70

Tarika Barrett

Um, but those are the ones that I have kind of open and and moving through right now.


01:44:22.92

ellenyin

I love that I feel like we just got you know, bonus this because we we have more recommendations I'm the same same way by the way I feel like I skip around in books I'll read a couple chapters of 1 dive into another I feel like it's just like my I can't like focus an on one but at a time.


01:44:16.70

Tarika Barrett

Yeah I know I know it's so hard when you want to like just have you anyway variety Oh a pleasure.