Woz U Instructor, Cassandra Matos – Mendez weighs in on Google.org making a $5 million grant to UnidosUS, the YWCA and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. A grant that will bring computer science (CS) education to over one million Latino students and their families by 2022. Read her response below!

After reading Adriana Jara ‘s Google article about ‚ÄãHelping Latino Students Learn to Code‚Äã, I was ecstatic and inspired to find new ways to help the community.

Google granted $5 million to UnidosUS, the YWCA, and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. These $5 million will provide Latino students resources and an opportunity to learn to code in a language that is familial – Spanish.

Learning in Spanish

As a daughter of two first-generation Borinquenos (Puerto Ricans born on the island of Puerto Rico) parents, I have witnessed the pains and struggles of adapting to a dominant culture with English as their second language. My parents have been in mainland America now for over 30 years and they continue to struggle with learning new skill sets in English.

As is the case with many Latinos acquiring new skills in America, it is not a matter of intelligence, but a matter of access. Many Latinos are left on the outside looking into new endeavors simply because the opportunities are not in a language that they thrive in. With this new grant, it can provide Latinos the opportunity to develop skills in STEM fields, particularly coding. With more diverse skilled coders, we can provide more creative services to a wider range of people.

A Coding Instructor Perspective

As a coding instructor, I have come to learn that this field is populated by 70% white, 20% Asian, and 5% Black or African American men and women. Leaving 5% for all other ethnicities, including Latinos. As a Latina woman in this industry, I have had experiences that would have caused many to switch careers. It is a constant uphill battle managing the politics of the industry, let alone the subject material itself; however, the gratification I receive when a student realizes a dream by creating, designing, and implementing an application that provides a specialized service is well worth any challenges I might face.

For example, a good friend that became one of my students created an application that provides resources and access to orphan teenagers aged out of the system. The application allows the user to locate places to stay, events in the community, and job opportunities by a click of a button. The goal of this application was to help reduce homelessness in the teenage orphan population.

Google is Helping And We Like It

The reason for my student ‘s creation was because her husband was an orphan that faced many difficult circumstances when he was aged out of the system. I believe with this Google initiative a new generation of creative services will emerge. We all have our own problems, our own cultural differences, and our own challenges, but at the end of the day we are all human and have common needs. Sometimes these common needs are obvious, most of the time we do not realize them until a light is shined on a different perspective.

We all have beautiful minds, amazing potential, and gifted brains. We should all have access to learn new skills in our strongest language. If we have the ability to eliminate a barrier, I believe we should knock down that wall and begin building bridges. New minds provide new solutions to new problems, which I believe will build a new type of Tech. A Tech we should all be eager to experience. This is a very exciting time and I am honored to be a part of history in the making and I am beyond ecstatic to see new technical services provided by the Latino community.