We raised $1.6M, I only need $10M more

Over the past several weeks, I have met with State Legislators and US Department of State officials talking about the work of Mission Bit. They have offered insight, brainstormed resources, made introductions and offered other feedback about how we might extend the work of interrupting generational poverty across the state and the world. We have also had an opportunity to talk about broader public policy initiatives related to workforce development.

I’d like to thank State Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblymember David Chiu, our San Francisco representatives in the state legislature. Though in the past we haven’t always aligned politically, they are leaders on the topic of expanding coding education. Assemblymember Kevin McCarthy also deserves tremendous credit for the passage of AB 2098, which expanded funds for after-school coding programs K-8 by $15M in the coming year. Mission Bit is not eligible for that funding because we work in high schools and and adults. However, it’s important that as many communities utilize these resources as possible until we can achieve full integration of computer science into K-12 education across the state.

During a meeting, I told a state representative that I raised $1.6M but I needed $10M more. She thought that was ambitious and I agreed with her.

When you consider the urgency of keeping up with a changing economy, growing automation of many forms of employment and the rising cost of living in Bay Area — organizations like Mission Bit still lack the support necessary to address these problems at the root in order to solve them.

Just another coding organization.

Forget everything you think you know about what it is we do here. We aren’t coders. Coding is a tool we use to create the communities our people deserve. When we say we want to solve generational poverty through coding education, that is the objective.

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Mission Bit isn’t weekend workshops, a program for building websites with templates, gender exclusive or race-specific. We are talking about 200 hours of project-based courses with real, hands-on coding instruction. We expect students to either enter college as computer science majors or go straight into coding bootcamp and start a career as a software engineer.

For our adult learners, we’re looking to change their lives. My great-grandfather came here to San Francisco to work on building navy ships for World War II. He learned how to work with heavy machinery to build the California Highways and it afforded him a better life. I want to see our generation have the same opportunity to use technology to change their lives.

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The only people of color I see working in the tech industry are ride share drivers and delivery companies. That is not to diminish my brothers and sisters working those jobs. Get your money and feed your families. There is dignity in your work. But if you want a pathway to change the direction of your and start a new career, that is something I can offer you. You may already have the people skills, creativity and work ethic to be a leader in this industry. It starts with a crucial first step.

I need $10M more.

Mission Bit can close the technology divide for youth and expand workforce development programs across the state. Since I have taken the helm, we have grown from an organization with little name recognition and few resources and have transformed into a trusted Bay Area institution that continues to grow in it’s offerings, reach and capacity.

We are still a startup, moving fast and breaking things. My team is lead by people of color and people that believe in the communities we’re serving. We’re going to raise $10M because we are best positioned to accomplish the audacity of this task.

This ain’t an hour of coding with people that don’t know what they’re doing. This ain’t volunteer-run courses with socially awkward software engineers.

We are Mission Bit, filled with youthful energy, homegrown leaders and passionate advocates for the genius that exist in communities often overlooked.

If you’re interested in helping us secure the $10M we need to expand our work across the state and extend our reach throughout the world, contact me at stevon@missionbit.com. If you’re interested in registering for our adult courses, high school courses or becoming an instructor you can email me as well.

If believe our ambition is still too great I leave you with the words of the great poet 2 Chainiz “Don’t believe me, just watch.”

Stevon Cook