Bay Area pipeline programs to volunteer for and donate to

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Irene Chen/File

The need to critically examine the relationship between crime and socioeconomic factors, including race and class, feels ever more pressing today. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Black people, women and those with a household income of less than $10,000 are the most likely populations to be victims of violence. UC Berkeley’s own department of psychology and Goldman School of Public Policy found, in the 2016 study “Implicit Bias and Policing,” that racial discrimination (both intentional and unintentional) remains prevalent in policing, which leads to higher rates of contact with police for minorities and overrepresentation in the United States’ jails.

That’s why pipeline programs are so essential in trying to address the shortcomings of our criminal justice system, by helping underrepresented people overcome through education and training the socioeconomic barriers and obstacles that they may face. Though education alone cannot serve as a cure for social and economic mobility, it can certainly serve as a gateway. We at the Clog have put together a list of some of the Bay Area’s pipeline programs that we feel are important to volunteer with and donate to.

SMASH Academy

SMASH Academy is partnered with UC Berkeley’s EECS Department and serves Bay Area students through its three-year program, which includes a five-week summer math and science enrichment program and year-round academic support for low-income high school students of color who tend to be underrepresented in STEM. The program has made significant impacts on the youth it serves by achieving a 100 percent high school graduation rate among participants (versus the national average of 83 percent), having 76 percent of its participants enroll in college as STEM majors (versus the national rate of 45 percent) and having 64 percent of said STEM majors graduate college with a STEM degree (versus the national rate of 32 percent). The force of SMASH Academy on the community runs deep, which is why the Clog encourages you to volunteer and donate to this particular pipeline program.

Another notable mention is the program’s partnership with Stanford University through its SMASH Medical Curriculum. The program is free of cost and similarly serves underrepresented and low-income high school students. Admitted students learn about college preparation, networking and, of course, STEM-intensive coursework. The program runs for three consecutive summers in order for students to build relationships and have long-lasting mentors. This program is led by medical students, residents, faculty and staff from Stanford’s department of surgery. We at the Clog think this program is quite smashing!

Girls Who Code

This pipeline program was started by Reshma Saujani to reach gender parity in computer science by exposing girls to technology. Though this program runs through all 50 states, the Bay Area has a tremendous number of Girls Who Code, or GWC, locations, which offer coding courses, including an introductory course on computer science, website design and development, wearable tech and fashion design and iPhone app development. Even though the number of women studying STEM has increased, minority women make up less than one in 10 employed scientists and engineers. If this is a program that resonates with you, you’re in luck! You can volunteer by facilitating or even starting a club to guide girls through the curriculum and build sisterhood. Don’t worry if you don’t have any technical experience — many facilitators learn to code alongside the girls in the program!

Bay Area Urban Debate League

This pipeline program may seem a bit unconventional, but it’s important to stress non-STEM skills as well, especially in the Bay Area, widely regarded as home of the tech industry. The Bay Area Urban Debate League, or BAUDL, is homegrown — it was started in Oakland as a way to serve Bay Area students by teaching them critical thinking and social esteem through debate, which the program believes provides intellectual and networking tools for its participants to develop professional and educational opportunities in the field of law. Across all of BAUDL’s debate leagues, 90 percent of students in debate graduate high school, and 75 percent of them go on to attend a four-year college or university. The program also provides social ties that help underrepresented students find footing and a voice in their communities. You may donate or volunteer as a judge, mentor or guest speaker for this program.

No matter the program that resonates with you, it’s important to recognize the far-reaching impacts of education and training in relation to the justice system. These pipeline programs help the Bay Area’s youth overcome the barriers that may make them more susceptible to injustices. So if you have the time (or money!) consider these pipeline programs to help out.

Chelsea Song is the blog editor. Contact Chelsea Song at [email protected].