My good friend Doug Russell1 and his business partner Jeff Watkins started a terrific foundation that you should know about. Sound Off is working to increase the access marginalized people in tech have to professional opportunities.
Their goals are ambitious.
To start, the current focus of the foundation is ensuring access to industry conferences. Once a month, they'll promote and lead a donation drive for a worthwhile cause. In their inaugural month, Sound Off is raising money for AlterConf. From Sound Off:
AlterConf is a traveling conference series that provides safe opportunities for marginalized people and those who support them in the tech and gaming industries. By highlighting the powerful voices and positive initiatives of local community members, we build hope and strengthen the community’s resolve to create safer, healthier spaces for everyone.
The conferences go beyond the limited definitions and basic discussions of diversity to create a deeper, more nuanced conversation. Each conference features a wide range of speakers delivering critical analyses of tech and gaming culture and presenting their vision for what our community can be.
To ensure that every event is accessible to as many people as possible, AlterConf provides both live captioning and American Sign Language interpreters, which cost an average of $1500 to $2000 per conference. You can help AlterConf continue to provide these essential affordances at future events by donating at: http://soundofftech.org/alterconf
Sound Off's work is especially important to me,2 because my own career has been positively impacted by having access to conferences for networking and mentorship. To help facilitate the goals of Sound Off, I'll be publicizing their donation drives.
Sharing the sentiment that it's important to create more opportunities for marginalized people in technology is great. Retweeting the voices of the marginalized to amplify them to your networks is fantastic. But the best way to drive change is with dollars and cents.
I'm headed to the donation page right now, join me.