1871 will provide meeting space to The Difference Engine as part of a new ongoing partnership which aims to help facilitate training and valuable connections for developers with non-traditional backgrounds. The Difference Engine, founded by 1871 member and WiSTEM alum Kimberly Lowe-Williams, is a non-profit with a mission of helping women, minorities, and older career changers take pre-existing tech skills and transform them into coding careers.
Through a 17-week program, participants work collaboratively with their peers and experienced tech professionals on real world projects, developing technical solutions over an iterative process. The types of projects that participants work on go beyond website development and include database apps, inventory management systems, custom social networks, data collection and reporting dashboards, and workflow and collaboration tools. Clients who have partnered with The Difference Engine to produce real world work include Back of the Yards Coffee Co., San Jose Obrero Mission, Trisomy Association, and 100 Club of Chicago.
“We’re here to break the stereotype of what a developer is and can be. There’s no question that a diverse team consisting of people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and personal and professional trajectories performs better than a homogenous team. Diversity is good for business, and The Difference Engine is opening doors not just for our students, but also for the businesses which will eventually hire them and benefit from their unique skills, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.” —Kimberly Lowe-Williams, Founder, The Difference Engine
Even before joining WiSTEM, 1871’s accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, Lowe-Williams was no stranger to the space, nor its educational resources. She is a graduate of Actualize, a coding bootcamp that hosted its 12-week program at 1871 from 2014 through the Summer of 2017. The Difference Engine grew out of a semi-formal initiative with Actualize and has since developed into a separate non-profit seeking capital and 501(c)(3) status.
“1871 exists at the intersection of technology and community, and developing pathways for diverse Chicagoans to achieve their career goals is an integral part of what we do. We are proud to partner with The Difference Engine and to provide the space and resources necessary to advance our shared mission of developing top tech talent and placing them into great roles.” —Deena Siegel, Manager of Membership, 1871
Read more about Kimberly Lowe-Williams's journey with The Difference Engine here.