Dec 17, 2020

Wind River Invests in Underrepresented Youth in the City of Oakland

Company Forms Partnership with Oakland Promise

By Kevin Dallas, Wind River President & CEO

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In this digital age, the importance of having tech-related training and skills cannot be stressed enough. The statistics tell us that not all kids have the same equitable access to opportunities. According to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, African Americans make up 7% of the tech industry, with only 2% holding executive roles in the sector; meanwhile, Hispanics make up 8% of the tech sector with 3% at the executive level; women hold 36% of tech roles, with only 20% at the executive level.

At Wind River our vision is an “AI-first world” that drives deep transformational economic and social change where technology empowers and protects organizations and societies. With a company culture that comprises attributes of customer focus, growth mindset, and diversity and inclusion (D&I), Wind River has a responsibility to our customers, our employees, and our communities. In addition to growing the business and making an industry impact, driving positive social change through front-line contribution to the education of underrepresented youth in our community is a top priority.

Enter Wind River

As one of very few Black CEOs in the tech sector, it’s a personal commitment and a commitment for the Wind River Executive Leadership Team to make access to technology more inclusive and equitable for underrepresented groups. A few months after joining Wind River, I was introduced to the Oakland Promise initiative launched by Oakland Mayor, Libby Schaaf. Led by CEO Mia Bonta, the Oakland Promise has been working toward advancing Oakland’s community by supporting the city’s young people to achieve their postsecondary educational aspirations. This unique cradle to career program offers Oakland youth the resources, support, coaching, and incentives they need throughout their school years to empower them to thrive in the higher education environments and careers of their choosing.

The Oakland Promise services are provided through four core programs at each stage of a young person’s development.  Through these programs, Oakland Promise offers college savings accounts (529s), Early College Scholarships, 2-4 year College Scholarships, financial guidance for parents and students, college building culture programs and critical resources to empower students to develop their college and vocational bound identity and persistence.

According to Oakland Promise:

1. Among their 1800 Oakland scholars:

– 79% are First-Generation in their family to go to college

– 88% are from families classified ‘Very Low Income’

– 91% are from underrepresented groups

2. 88% of their scholars persist from year 1 to year 2 of college/post-secondary, compared to state average of 70% and national average of 74%.

3. The median annual household income for a Black family in Oakland is $37.5K, and simultaneously the average total amount of loans taken out to attend a public post-secondary institution is $27K.

4. Only 45% of Black-identifying middle school students in Oakland strongly believe they will go to college.

Wind River will invest in a real front-line program for Oakland Promise students.

Through this partnership we all win, because in addition to supporting our local youth, this will grow our pipeline of new diverse talent. Our program will include:

– College internships that provide exposure to cutting-edge projects and innovations with real-world relevance

– Mentorship from some of the brightest minds in the technology field

– Graduate career opportunities at Wind River

Mia Bonta shared these words with me, "At Oakland Promise, we are so glad to partner with Wind River to not only help Oakland students expand their horizon of potential careers, but help them see the ways they can contribute to the world through fascinating STEM-related fields."  

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Mia Bonta, Oakland Promise CEO

We’re showing our commitment to investing in Oakland and lifting up and elevating young diverse talent.  This will continue to be a priority for Wind River as we seek to be intentional in expanding our already-inclusive organization to further diversify our teams. In fact, we’ve recently brought in a D&I lead to help drive and accelerate this effort. I’m proud of who we are, and who we’re continually evolving to become.

For more information on Oakland Promise visit: https://oaklandpromise.org/

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