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Among the many ill effects of a global pandemic, education will be among the biggest. It has been well documented that schools that responded well to remote learning, in the U.S. and beyond, have been the exceptions rather than the rule. Education organizations focused on technology have been no exception.
I spoke last week with Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of the computer-skills education non-profit Girls Who Code. Her group, which by the end of last year provided training for some 300,000 girls, has had to completely refocus its approach. “We had done only place-based learning,” she says. Shifting to remote instruction presented the same challenges schools everywhere have confronted. Teachers needed re-training. Students, half of whom come from families whose household income is under the poverty line, needed access to technology. Girls Who Code itself needed to rethink its instructional approach.
Saujani says that while many educators initially focused appropriately on safety or teaching tools, they’re now turning to the actual coursework. “If you think about pedagogy rather than technology you can go even deeper,” she says. GWC, whose pre-pandemic budget hovered around $25 million, has emphasized instruction in rural areas that would have been harder to serve before. It is providing free summer immersion programs online and hosting virtual talks with its powerful network. Jack Dorsey spoke last week; Melinda Gates is on tap this week.
Girls Who Code relies on grants from about 80 corporate partners as well as individual donors. Saujani says finding new donors is tough in times like these, and she worries many non-profits won’t make it to the other side. She also feels her organization was built for this moment. Its three values are bravery, sisterhood, and activism. “A lot of women feel exhausted and overwhelmed,” she says. Saujani sounded awfully fired up to me.
A pandemic benefactor if ever there was one, the virtual events software company Hopin raised $40 million last week. It caught my eye because Fortune is using Hopin for its first major virtual event, Brainstorm Health, next week. Venture units of Salesforce, a powerful events host, and Slack, which also benefits from the online collaboration trend, participated in the funding round.
Interesting: The New York Times editorialized against the Uber and Lyft position on California’s gig-economy law—the stakes are really, really high.
This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.