Recent research indicates that “social networks are ubiquitous among the middle classes, and provide vital paths to privilege and opportunity for them, students of color typically experience the opposite –that is, the ubiquity of network barriers and entrapments along with the resulting absence of an informed, active network is limiting, to say the least“ (Margolis, 2008, p.92).
It should not be surprising that building networks is crucial to the success of programs at the college level if the goal is to support under represented learners. These directives are based on the import of supportive communities where students in these groups can strengthen each other’s learning and provide help and support for each other (Margolis, 2008).
However, there are several organizations that are available to African Americans that provide exactly the support communities needed. Here are three that are doing a great job in this area. They are The Black Data Processing Associates (BPDA), The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and Blacks in Technology (BITS.net).
BDPA has chapters all over the country including chapters in Houston and Dallas. The organization works with several major corporations to provide scholarships to students and work to secure grants to fund their myriad of programs such as their High School Computer Competition (HSCC).
Each year they organize their national technology conference, which boasts a job fair, workshops, an awards banquet, and the crowning of the HSCC winner. You can learn more about BDPA by visiting their website at http://www.bdpa.org/
The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), with more than 35,700 members, is one of the largest student-governed organizations in the country. NSBE now includes more than 450 College, Pre-College, and Technical Professional/Alumni chapters in the United States and abroad.
NSBE’s mission is "to increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally and positively impact the community." You can learn more about NSBE by visiting their site at visit http://www.nsbe.org/.
The Blacks in Technology Portal (BITS) mission from their site is to build a forum and development network that extends throughout the U.S. With a “one BIT at a time approach”, Blacks In Technology will serve as a catalyst for changing the mindset of African Americans with regards to the field of technology by giving a voice to those who want to be heard and mentoring those who want to learn. You should visit BITS at http://www.blacksintechnology.net/ The founders and publishers encourage us to join their site because:
Knowledge is power. We invite you and others in the community to share your knowledge, information, skills, and experiences. Whether it’s tips or tricks, basic or advanced, every “bit” of knowledge is good knowledge. Everyone has some knowledge to share, from networking, systems administration, programming to career advancement strategies. We welcome your thought-leadership and expertise to build this value-add community through interactive knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing is empowering.
This site is providing precisely the kind of community and supportive network that the research is indicating is needed to aid African Americans be successful when they choose to pursue a career in STEM. The Black Data Processing Associates (BPDA), The National Society of Black Engineers, and the Blacks in Technology portal are three wonderful organizations that have stepped up to provide the experiences and leadership needed to ensure that African Americans are not left behind in the information society.