On July 20, 24 girls ranging from 10-16 years of age joined us in our New York office to develop apps as part of Tech Explorers, a summer program to help introduce girls to STEM fields by delivering technology to address social issues.

The girls attend different schools in the NYC metro area that are part of the Young Women’s Leadership School network, a program committed to building young women with strong values and skills. One of these schools participated in our CO.LAB road tour last year. CO.LAB, presented by Open Source Stories, is a learning experience focused on collaboration, community and open source principles. Its goal is to empower students with collaborative problem-solving skills that can help them succeed in their pursuit of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) careers.

The Young Women's leadership schools have a strong technical curriculum during their school year and the Tech Explorers summer program enables them to keep developing their technical skills and, at the same time, be exposed to corporations and mentors. Every day during the program, they visit a different company in NYC that provides space, meals and mentorship.

The 2018 summer program is focused on entrepreneurship, where the girls are divided into teams to develop their own product idea, taking it from ideation to execution. This includes designing the product and using 3D printing to create a physical sample, coding a web page, creating a logo and advertising, and pitching to the mentor team.

In addition to providing feedback on the student projects and helping them code of their product webpages, Red Hat mentors shared how the students could use open source in their future careers and what opportunities look like within the industry. Mentors shared personal stories of being a woman working in technical fields. They highlighted the art of the possible, helping the students to recognize that they are unique and have control over their futures.  

As the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, we believe in the value of collaboration, and we believe that with more diversity can come more innovation. We value diversity, inclusion, and equality of voices, not just at Red Hat, but in the broader technology industry. We believe that one way to help achieve this is by empowering the younger generation and introducing girls to the possibilities of STEAM careers and this exciting industry. Our goal with CO.LAB is to build a community for students, including the educators and university partners who participate in CO.LAB. It's our commitment to help them curate longer-term resources through mentorships and other opportunities.

Part of Red Hat’s Open Source Stories initiative, CO.LAB is an ongoing effort to create and share stories about how openness can be a catalyst for change. Red Hat has championed communities—both big and small—as we strive to build innovative technologies. With Open Source Stories, we are sharing what happens when people defy convention and say to the world: “Take this. Build on it. Make it better.”

Follow along with the CO.LAB initiative via www.redhat.com/colab and social media via #RedHatCOLAB and #opensourcestories. For more information about Open Source Stories, visit https://www.redhat.com/en/open-source-stories.

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