Facebook is launching a new initiative to increase the number of programmers of color. Mel Evans/AP Images

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal

Facebook is moving to increase the number of black and Latino programmers.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday announced a new initiative called TechPrep, which aims to introduce coding to people who might not otherwise be exposed to information about programming careers. 

"Improving diversity in the tech industry is an important challenge," Zuckerberg wrote on the social-networking site, "and something we're deeply committed to at Facebook. Everyone should be able to take advantage of the opportunities created by the internet. Giving everyone the opportunity to learn to code will create even more valuable tools to serve society." 

Citing research done with McKinsey (which is supporting the new initiative), he noted that many black and Latino students and their parents lack access to coding resources. Next America previously noted that there were 11 states in 2013 where not a single black student took the computer-science Advanced Placement test, and eight states where no Latino students sat for the exam. 

That has powerful implications when it comes to the pipeline of workers who end up at tech companies like Facebook. Most are white and male. Just 3 percent of the company's tech workers are Hispanic. A meager 1 percent are black. Twitter and other companies have similar profiles

In a video attached to the Facebook announcement, Facebook employees of color explain programming and their path to a career in tech. The site itself offers resources for parents and students, broken down by age and ability. 

TechPrep comes on the heels of other efforts, both public and private, to increase access to STEM education and careers. Girls Who Code recently launched an alumni network to encourage young women to pursue careers in tech, and the Obama administration announced that some people will be able to use federal financial aid to pay for coding boot camps

Today we’re launching TechPrep -- a website to help people start programming careers.It shows parents and students what programming is, why it’s important, and what sort of jobs are available for those who can code. It guides people to resources to get started -- everything from classes to college prep. And it features real stories from people from under-represented groups who’ve used the resources to start careers in tech. Improving diversity in the tech industry is an important challenge, and something we’re deeply committed to at Facebook. Everyone should be able to take advantage of the opportunities created by the internet. Giving everyone the opportunity to learn to code will create even more valuable tools to serve society. Through research with McKinsey, we found that there are very few resources in particular for Black or Hispanic learners, and we wanted to change this. We’ve also put together resources for parents and guardians so they can provide young people with advice and support. We hope this is a valuable resource for people in our community, and that it helps makes a small contribution towards making our industry more diverse. Check out TechPrep at: https://techprep.fb.com

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

This story is part of our Next America: Workforce project, which is supported by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

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