African Americans make up 24% of the working population in America, however only 13% of the IT industry employees are African Americans. Further, African Americans in the IT Industry earned but 84% of the salaries paid to their counterparts. There is still a need to ‘bridge the digital divide’.
BETF recognizes that to close the gap of computer and technology literacy, minority youth must participate and compete in today’s digital economy. We want students from historically disadvantaged communities to learn advanced computer science and community responsibility from any of the more than 45 BDPA chapters located around the nation.
In 1986, we began developing high school youth for future entrance into the IT industry through the Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) program. Annually, we train up to 900 of these students in after-school computer camps on the latest computer and Internet website developing languages as well as the much-needed industry knowledge and presentation skills.
In addition to the computer camps, we encourage each of the BDPA chapters to bring 5-person teams to the annual BDPA Technology Conference to demonstrate the skills they have learned. The students from the best-performing teams at this annual High School Computer Competition (HSCC) earn Jesse Bemley Scholarships that they can use for post-secondary education. We are very proud of the alumni from this annual program.