Break Through Tech Raises $26M From Melinda French Gates, Others
The demand for artificial intelligence careers has increased nearly 75 percent over the last four years, but only 26 percent of data and AI workers are women, according to Deloitte. To help aid the gender gap in tech careers, New York-based Break Through Tech has established free college-level classes that teach AI programming to women and other marginalized students.
On Wednesday, Break Through Tech announced it secured $26 million in funding from Melinda French Gates’ Pivotal Ventures and others to fuel its AI programs.
“Pivotal Ventures was one of Break Through Tech’s early investors that first helped scale our flagship Sprinternship program and then funded the expansion from what was specifically a New York City-based program into a national one,” Judith Spitz, founder and executive director of Break Through Tech, told Built In via email. “Beyond funding, their extraordinary network of academic and industry experts, analytical resources and thought leadership towards democratizing opportunities within higher education and the technology industry has been essential to our ongoing success.”
Break Through Tech’s programs are currently held in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
Since its founding in 2016, more than 3,000 students have gone through Break Through Tech programs. This, according to the organization, has resulted in 95.4 percent more women graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the City University of New York, which was the company’s first university partner.
While programs are set to take place this year at Cornell, MIT and UCLA, Break Through Tech’s goal is that 75 percent of participants in the program are not students at these universities but rather students from the respective local communities.
“We want to welcome the best students into this program regardless of their race, experience or socio-economic background and use our inclusive and supportive community to drive inclusion and diversity in artificial intelligence,” Spitz said.
Interested students can fill out a 30-minute application, which includes a statement of purpose and an overview of their previous academic and extracurricular experiences. Upon completing a summer skills course, students will receive a $2,000 stipend to Break Through Tech. This helps marginalized students feel more comfortable applying as most students cannot otherwise afford to attend programs like this, according to the company.