Walker’s Legacy: Partnering to Launch Women of Color in Tech

In recent years, foundations, corporations, and individuals alike have paid significant attention to closing the gender gap in the tech industry. We have made progress — but not as much as some may think. Female representation in the tech industry is staggeringly low, and this is especially true for women of color. To combat these statistics, Walker’s Legacy, Comcast, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund are joining forces with the Women of Color in Tech event series.

The Women of Color in Tech tour is a new national event series that highlights multicultural women in technology. Sponsored by Walker’s Legacy, in partnership with Comcast and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, this speaker series highlights the accomplishments and career paths of multicultural female entrepreneurs. Through the program, women of color will find new opportunities, resources, and programs that can bolster entrepreneurship around the country.

“Championing women of color in technology is one of the most important causes for Walker’s Legacy today,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, founder and CEO of Walker’s Legacy. “Through this partnership, we look forward to highlighting women of color leading in areas of STEM while also discussing important solutions for challenges they face as entrepreneurs and business leaders.”

Cofield founded Walker’s Legacy in 2009, when she realized there were very few female mentors and role models she could turn to while forming her first business. After realizing that other women, particularly women of color, were also searching for mentors, Cofield created Walker’s Legacy — named after Madam C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in the U.S. — as a lecture series for women in business.

In 2016, the organization expanded with the Walker’s Legacy Foundation. The Foundation serves multicultural women and girls around the world, providing online resources, mentorship, and other support offerings that boost entrepreneurial endeavors.

Today, Walker’s Legacy and the Walker’s Legacy Foundation equip women and girls with the networks, resources, and programs they need to find success in their fields. The Women of Color in Tech series represents the Foundation’s next step in its commitment to empowerment, which it renewed in 2018 through a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF).

“Last year, TMCF and Walker’s Legacy entered into an MOU with the hopes of collaborating on programming that could help create more pipelines for the talented women attending our 47 member-schools,” said George Spencer, TMCF executive vice president of business development and innovation & entrepreneurship. “Today, we are pleased to support the ‘Women in Tech of Color’ national event series because all of our students need to see and be inspired by positive examples of minority women succeeding in the tech industry.”

Like the Walker’s Legacy Foundation, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is an organization committed to empowering people of color. Since its founding in 1987, TMCF has awarded more than $300 million in scholarships, program funding, and partnerships that directly support the black college community.

Comcast, the third sponsor of the event series, prides itself on its commitment to integrity and respect. The tech giant’s support of the Women of Color in Tech series aligns with its core values of entrepreneurial spirit, integrity, respect, and giving back to the community.

“At Comcast NBCUniversal, we stand for including everyone,” reads the company’s mission statement on diversity and inclusion. “We believe that a diverse and inclusive company is a more effective company, leading us to approach diversity as a driver for business growth and innovation. As a result, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is a fundamental part of our corporate strategy and — just as important — part of our DNA.”

The speaker series also aligns with Comcast’s goals for community impact through technological empowerment: “We are committed to increasing access to technology, providing skills that help individuals fully participate in the digital economy, and empowering innovators, entrepreneurs and our own employees to use media and technology for good.”

Hosted in Houston, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, Women of Color in Tech features a mix of keynote speakers and panel discussions. The series represents a unique philanthropic opportunity that foundations and corporations can take on together.

The Walker’s Legacy Foundation, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Comcast have each made commitments to empowering their communities through philanthropy. But sometimes, three minds are better than one — when communities, organizations, foundations, corporations, and individuals band together to make real change happen, the results can be incredible.

By Maggie May of Philanthropy Women