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Top Tech Organizations: Leading the Revolution

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Last year, I gave you my Top Five Women Tech Organizations and I'm back with a shortlist of technology organizations for both men and women. This time, I'm sharing my top picks for tech organizations that are helping society learn and access relevant resources in the STEM and technology world. Our world is transitioning into a place where technology is fluid in everyday life, making it integrate seamlessly. We as a society must start embracing these changes, and the following groups are making it easier for us to do so. They are trailblazers for technology education, services, and resources that are needed in everyday life.

The following organizations have powerful missions of engaging and empowering men and women in technology fields through support, resources, and sustained networking -- this is exactly what our world has been waiting for!

Check out my list below to meet my top picks for organizations that are changing how we engage and access technology. These are just a few of the many organizations in the tech community, but these stand out as having not just disruptive core ideas, but revolutionary.

Computing and computer science has a huge impact on society today, and will just continue to grow. Due to its great importance, it is becoming imperative that computer science education is started early; however this is not often the reality. Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is a national effort to raise awareness and advocate for computer science education in kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) in all schools, and into the post secondary education. CSEdWeek operates as a project of the Computing in the Core, a coalition of various groups that advocate for moving computer science into a core academic subject of K-12 education.

"Meaningful computer science education largely missing from US K-12 education. There is an assumption that if kids are using technology, they must be learning technology. This simply isn't true." stated Ruthe Farmer, Director of Strategic Initiatives, National Center for Women & IT and 2012 CSEdWeek Chair. "CSEdWeek is an effort to bring this issue to the forefront and provide tools for grassroots action."

The group is comprised of those who are passionate about the cause: teachers, parents, students, and more. Together, these people collaborate with numerous partners to develop and lead activities and events during the Computer Science Education Week. In 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives named the week that holds Dec. 9 (Grace Hopper's birthday) as the annual Computer Science Education Week. For the last three years, CSEdWeek has worked with top tech companies, including Google, Oracle, and Microsoft.

Want to get involved in raising awareness in your community about computer science education? You can learn more here.

Think you know about online education? Think again! Codecademy is an education company, but breaks conventional education norms with its community of online educators/learners. The premise of the company is simple--"teaching the world to code"--but its practice is complex as it works to rethink the digital native education. There are no elements of the traditional classroom integrated into Codecademy, but an online community that helps one another learn and teach coding. "We do not want to open up universities. We want to open up knowledge. Everyone knows something they can teach someone else and we want to help them do it."

The layout of Codecademy is intuitive, with user profiles where you can build up points and earn badges. Along with learning to code, users can also build projects like games, apps, and other interactive media. Once you've mastered a skill or have something you want to share with the Codecademy community, you can even set up your own course and teach what you know to become an expert in the field. To sign up for some learning, you can go here.

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs operates the TechGirls program, an exchange for girls ages 15-17 from the Middle East and North Africa pursuing careers in science and technology. The three-week program brings these girls to the United States for a hands-on learning experience to develop skills in various tech-related fields such as programming, robotics, web design, and more. Three or four TechGirls are nominated by U.S. Embassies, Consulates and TechWomen Alumnae from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Yemen.

"The United States invests in teenage girls from the Middle East and North Africa because we're committed to empowering women and girls through technology," Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said. "While in the U.S., the TechGirls learn critical professional and leadership skills and build networks to pursue higher education and career goals."

As Stock noted:

"Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the creation of the TechGirls program in 2011, 'to encourage innovation and promote the spread of new technologies to give women and girls the support that they need to become leaders in this field.' TechGirls came on the heels of the successful TechWomen, a mentoring program that pairs international female tech leaders with their American counterparts."

The program support empowers TechGirls to be leaders in the tech and science industries. Upon the completion of the program, the TechGirls return to their home countries and use their experiences and new knowledge to teach other women and girls about technology in their community. This helps these young women become ambassadors in technology development, and their individual efforts are reinforced with monthly webinars that focus on skills-building.

According to CODE4Charity's website, "This six week, instructor-led HTML seminar is held online and culminates in delivery of a well-developed website to a non-profit charity. The course provides students with the tools to conduct a client needs assessment, craft a scope of work (SOW), develop story boards (draft website concept), write code, engineer web pages, and cultivate a web presence."

The Technology Association of Oregon acts as a hub and huge resource for those involved in the technology field throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington. TAO is open for a variety of members in the tech community, including corporate leaders, established company executives, service providers, government and educational institutions, and even start-ups. The association has something for everyone: events, networking opportunities, business and professional development, advocacy, and corporate benefits. "TAO's vision is to create a world-class and inclusive innovation economy in Oregon and SW Washington. We do this through programs and initiatives that focus on technology, entrepreneurship, and education," said Skip Newberry, President of TAO

The extensive network helps connect business, tech and software enthusiasts from all backgrounds in a collaborative way. Members have the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills, and entrepreneurial support from others. They also enjoy premier access to business services and exclusive pricing for community events, trainings, and conferences. This innovative, idea-centered, and entrepreneurship-friendly network has a state-wide mission that is focused on largely five regions of Oregon (Portland-Metro, Central Oregon, Corvallis, The Gorge, Lane County, Southern Oregon).

TAO's TechStart Education Foundation launched the Oregon Innovation Academy to inspire K-12 students to pursue tech-related careers and give them the tools and skills they need to solve important civic problems. What started last summer with Thompson Morrison, the President of the TechStart Board, and six high school kids who didn't know how to code, has grown into a dynamic program that is growing rapidly and generating interest around the state and beyond.

Girls in Tech Mentorship Programs (GITm)

The Girls in Tech MENTORSHIP Program was developed to provide integrated, engaging and educational high-touch workshops for young girls ages K-12, college professionals and young entrepreneurs. In an effort to encourage girls to enjoy, embrace and understand the importance of math, tech and science at a young age, we are building the curriculum which will enable girls to learn the basic skills, software programs and gain entrepreneurial exposure to become leaders within their communities, academia and in their future careers in the tech space.

Some programs that we're launching include:

  • Girls In Tech one-on-one: Our Mentoring program is about building relationships of trust between a young person and an established leader for the purpose of providing support, encouragement and guidance. Mentors are matched one-on-one with the potential mentee for support and career guidance
  • Summer Camp: a program focused on tech and innovation-oriented field trips during the summertime
  • Technovation App Challenge: a day-long mobile app building workshop
  • Girls in Tech Labs: a series of workshops that enables students to embrace a business concept and launch their own company
  • Girls in Tech 101: a series of workshops that provides students with the basic technological and software skills to succeed in their classes and future careers
  • Girls in Tech Entrepreneurship and Leadership Program: a series of lectures and skill-building classes from female role models in the technology and business fields

To learn or participate in the Mentorship programs then check it out here.

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