Dr. Nashlie Sephus, a tech evangelist, is well aware of the tech industry’s lack of diversity, having experienced it firsthand throughout her career. It inspired her to start The Bean Path, a nonprofit in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, that’s laying promising groundwork for change. The organization provides locals with computer training and advice, offers tech office hours, and also runs engineering and coding programs for children.
Since its inception in 2018, The Bean Path has provided nearly 1,300 individuals and organizations with virtual and in-person tech education and consultations. In the summer of 2022, their efforts reached 62 students who participated in their first STEAM Immersion Summer Program. Other outstanding initiatives include in-person/virtual tech presentations featuring tech experts, youth-facing hackathons, coding camps, grant funding directly to students and community organizations, and a 6-month entrepreneurial/tech mentorship program. Now the non-profit is planning to build a 14-acre tech district in central Jackson.
“A lot of people think nothing good comes from Mississippi. I want to make sure I’m changing that stereotype. The Jackson Tech District has been a dream of mine for several years now. I want people to know that they can (change the current status). Once you bring in people of different backgrounds to the tech scene, we provide greater innovation for all.” Dr. Nashlie Sephus said.
“Less than 3% of the computing workforce are black women. It doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why I started the Bean Path. We help people in the community build a website, help them grow their business. We work with youth programs. We also provide grants and scholarships. We need to make sure all the communities have what they need whether it’s access to internet, access to experts or access to resources.”
“I grew up picking cotton, but I knew that was not all that life had to offer for me. Coding fascinates me because it’s another language. I’ve always wanted to talk to a computer and tell it what to do. But I learned that you use different languages, put them together in order to create something to solve problems. It’s almost like trying to learn piano or some kind of other musical instrument. It’s a challenge. I’ll soon to be 77 years old and I don’t mind telling you. But I love coding. I want to learn more. I managed the Metro Jackson Section of the National Council of Negro Women. I’m building a website so that we’ll be able to network all across the country.”
“It’s important to let this community know that they have access to this technology, that they can be where I am. Because when I was growing up, I really didn’t know an engineer. Actually, I didn’t know a lot about college. We forget there’s a whole demographic of people out there that are fearful of technology. So being able to be that example, ultimately, the goal is to empower the communities.”
“Jackson has been dying on a vine largely because of the economic flight to the suburbs. This project is transformative. We’re all talking about the brain drain. Nashlie’s project creates an environment where young people want to stay.”
Acer donated eight laptops and eight monitors to The Bean Path and is proud to support those using technology to make the world a better place.
The Bean Path provides technical advice and guidance to individuals and small businesses in the community.
The mission of the Bean Path is to sow technical expertise in order to grow networks and fertilize communities.