Tufts alumni develop residential coding program for women and non-binary people of color

Three university alumni are working to convert a 4,000 square foot home in Roxbury into a technology training center for young minority women and non-binary people. The 122-year-old house on Hutchings Street, which is due to open this year after a multimillion-dollar renovation, will welcome young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are looking to gain experience and careers in fields related to STEM.

The organization leading the design and programming of the house is G{Code}, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides financial support, technical training, and work experience to women and people of non-binary color interested in careers in technology.

The project is led by Bridgette Wallace, an urban planner and 2011 graduate of Tufts’ Masters in Public Policy program.

Wallace said the home will be a “safe place to live, a safe place to dream, create, think.”

G{Code} was founded several years ago and now runs a 10-week program called Intro to G{Code}, which trains young women and non-binary people of color in HTML, CSS, and Javascript while providing personal and professional development workshops, according to the organization’s website.

Even without previously having a home base for its programs, the team has seen interest skyrocket since the program was introduced a few years ago.

“We’ve had very, very great success so far,” said Bailey Siber, director of operations and partnerships and 2018 Tufts graduate.

The organization has just welcomed its fourth cohort into the program. Of more than 500 applicants, only 25 were selected, according to Siber.

“There’s a lot of interest and a lot of need for a program like this,” Siber said.

The house, which will house the organization’s Intro to G{Code} program, will be renovated in phases. This first phase, due to be completed this year, includes the renovation of a carriage shed that sits behind the main Victorian house, according to David Supple (LA’02), an architect supervising the redesign.

Supple said the first floor of the shed will resemble a classroom and the second will include residential space.

The choice to rehabilitate and remodel a house in Roxbury for this program was a conscious one. The house is for women and non-binary people of color, and the team wanted their organization to be a catalyst for positive change in the local community.

“Having people surrounded by people who look like them, who have similar life experiences to them, is a factor that we took into account,” Wallace said.

The Roxbury House design team considered the importance of creating a safe space for people who may have experienced discrimination and the impact their organization’s presence will have on the community of Roxbury.

“The intention of G{Code} is to create and maintain places, therefore concepts that not everyone knows; but the idea is that we must claim the physical space in the communities, [and] creating opportunities… to reinvigorate the social and economic fibers in the Roxbury neighborhood,” Siber said.

In addition to being a place of residence and study for Intro to G{Code} participants, the house is envisioned as a community center that will host events open to the surrounding community.

“We want the G{Code} house to be in a way a symbol of the opportunity that is available in Roxbury for everyone,” Siber said.

As G{Code} continues to remodel the Roxbury home, the organization has conducted a series of fundraising campaigns. The cost of the renovations will exceed millions, according to the G{Code} website. The donations, the team said, will go towards everything from providing computers and Wi-Fi hotspots to current attendees to handing out gift cards for food.

“Everything, everything matters,” Siber said.

Siber added that those who don’t have the financial means to donate can support the organization’s efforts by getting involved in other ways.

“We can always use more mentors,” Siber said. “And then, in the future, … we will have opportunities for people to come in and … participate in building the space.”

Wallace said she’s excited that G{Code} — and its next home — is the brainchild of three Tufts alumni, all from different backgrounds, who came together to answer a need of the community.

“We were able to work together – and what does that mean for other Tufts alumni, from different disciplines, coming together to solve a social problem?” said Wallace. “I think it’s exciting, and it should be praised and discussed.”

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