AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – WJBF’s Black Excellence 365 recognizes inspiring black individuals and organizations in the CSRA year-round. Recipients are honored with the Mary L. Jones Black Affirmation Award.

This month, we honor Ebony Brown, whose love for technology led her to helping young girls interested in STEM.

“He was like, ‘Are you happy?” said Ebony Brown, founder and CEO of Brown Girls Code. “Have you discovered your passion in life? Do you love what you do?”

By 2017, Ebony Brown had achieved a successful career in staffing and human resources.

But, one day, she encountered an ad on YouTube that changed her trajectory.

“…by the time I got back to the living room, I sat down on the sofa and I was like, ‘Oh my God…I’m not…’,” continued Brown.

Brown says she immediately began thinking about a career change- she wanted to do something that brought more meaning to her life.

“I started thinking about it, like, ‘what is that thing?’,” said Brown. “And I had a quick memory to when I was in high school. And I was like, ‘oh my gosh…its technology.’”

Brown started on a path to break into IT. She says she didn’t know what to do or how to do it, but passion directed her.

Soon, she found herself in tech meetups around town.

“When I would go, I found that I would be either the only black female…or the only female, you know,” said Brown. “And it was really lonely.” 

Brown says she wanted to change that.

“All of these opportunities that can really be a game changer for families, as far as income and wealth-building are concerned,” said Brown.”  

Brown tells us she envisioned ways she could expose young girls of color to STEM-based fields and coding.

By 2019, Brown Girls Code was up and running. More than 100 eager girls entered the first program. 

“We don’t just focus on coding,” said Brown. “We focus on cybersecurity, robotics, artificial intelligence, emerging sciences that come up… We also focus on entrepreneurship, leadership and we mentor the girls as well.”

Brown says they also incorporate mindfulness in their programs, helping the girls learn how to handle stress both inside and outside of the classroom.

Brown Girls Code now trains young girls across 26 states. Brown tells us that there are plans for international expansion to reach more young girls.

“If Little Ebony knew this was a career that you could actually pursue,” said Brown. “If Little Ebony saw somebody who looked like me when I was younger…oh, I would’ve went for it! I’ve always been into technology.”

Brown says the best part about her work is watching the girls grow.

“Sometimes there are girls that come into the program and they may be reserved or really not going out for their full potential,” said Brown. “And after they’ve been in the program, they have such confidence, you know…”

“There is nothing greater than finding out what you’re created to do, finding out what your purpose is and what you’re passionate about,” said Brown. 

Brown Girls Code is always looking for passionate volunteers – visit the Brown Girls Code website.

If you would like to nominate someone in the community to receive the Black Excellence Award, you can do so here.