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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, May 25, 2024

Tufts alumni develop residential coding program for women and nonbinary people of color

Coding software on a laptop is pictured.

Three university alumni are working to convert a 4,000-square-foot home in Roxbury into a tech training hub for young minority women and nonbinary people. The 122-year-old house on Hutchings Street, set to open this year following a multimillion-dollar renovation, will house 18–25-year-olds looking to gain experience in and build careers in STEM-related fields. 

The organization spearheading the house’s design and programming is G{Code}, a Boston-based nonprofit that provides financial support, technical training and professional experience for women and nonbinary people of color interested in careers in tech. 

The project is run by Bridgette Wallace, an urban planner and 2011 graduate from Tufts’ Master of Public Policy program. 

Wallace said the house will be a “safe place to live, a safe place to dream, to create, to 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 nonbinary people of color in HTML, CSS and Javascript while offering workshops for personal and professional development, according to the organization’s website.

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

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

The organization just welcomed its fourth cohort to 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 provide a home for the organization’s Intro to G{Code} program, will be remodeled in phases. This first phase, set to be completed this year, includes the refurbishment of a carriage house that sits behind the main Victorian home, according to David Supple (LA’02), an architect overseeing the redesign.

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

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

“Having folks surrounded by people who look like them, who have similar life experiences as them, is one factor that we considered,” Wallace said.

The team in charge of designing the Roxbury house accounted for the importance of creating a safe space for people who have may have faced discrimination and the impact their organization's presence will have on the Roxbury community. 

"The whole intention of G{Code} is placemaking and place-keeping, so concepts that not everyone is familiar with; but the idea is that we have to claim physical space in communities, [and] build opportunities … to reinvigorate social and economic fibers in the Roxbury neighborhood,” Siber said.

Beyond being a place for the Intro to G{Code} participants to reside and study, the house is envisioned as a community hub that will host events open to the surrounding community. 

“We want the G{Code} house to kind of be a symbol of the opportunity that’s available within Roxbury for everyone,” Siber said.

As G{Code} continues to remodel the Roxbury house, the organization has been running a series of fundraising campaigns. The cost of renovations will exceed millions, according to G{Code}'s website. Donations, the team said, will go toward everything from providing computers and Wi-Fi hotspots to current participants to giving out gift cards for food.

“Everything, everything counts,” 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’re gonna have opportunities for folks to come on site and … be a part of building the space."

Wallace said she is excited by the idea that G{Code} — and its forthcoming home — is the brainchild of three Tufts alumni, all with different backgrounds, who came together to address a community need. 

“We were able to work together — and what does that mean for other Tufts alums, from different disciplines, coming together to address a social issue?” Wallace said. “I think that’s exciting, and that should be praised and talked about.”