MILWAUKEE — The technology movement continues to grow in Wisconsin— Milky Way Tech Hub is helping to push it forward in Milwaukee.

Nadiyah Johnson said she created Milky Way Tech Hub in 2017 because she noticed a lack of diversity when she was in college.

“I noticed very few Black people [and] women in the corporate space, especially the leadership positions,” said Johnson. “Different entities were coming together to make Milwaukee a tech hub and I wanted to make sure Black and Brown organizations and our community was prioritized in that effort.”

The mission behind Milky Way Tech Hub is to teach people of color entrepreneurship and STEM skills. Johnson said since launching, the hub has helped 4,000 people across the region. Thanks to sponsorships, Milky Way Tech Hub has provided laptops to certain cohorts in need.

But the woman-led organization does much more than that. 

Milky Way Tech Hub focuses on three pillars, which include STEM education/workforce, entrepreneurship and community.

“The entrepreneurship pillar we have programs like our product development program with Marquette University,” said Johnson. “Last year we granted something close to $6,000 to deserving start ups.”

For the community pillar, the hub hosts different summits, focusing on STEM and entrepreneurship. The hub also goes into the community to bring that same education to others. 

Nadiyah recently hosted a workshop at a Milwaukee tech conference, touching on the STEM education and workforce pillar.

“We have to be a place where Black and Brown people can find work in tech and to thrive,” said Johnson. “Teaching them how to code, teaching them how to be a data scientist or how to play a more active role in the tech ecosystem.”

Milky Way Tech Hub provides classes to youth and adults, including those who have been involved in the criminal justice system. Franklin Coleman just graduated from the four week program. He was released from prison this past April after serving time for 32 years.

“I learned how to email,” said Johnson. “I learned how to text. I learned how to take a picture. I learned so much about that phone.”

Coleman said technology has changed drastically in the past 30 years. He was able to learn not only how to work a phone but a laptop, create a resume, apply for jobs and pay his bills online.

“I’m so grateful for Nadiyah,” said Coleman. “They really helped me. I learned a lot.”

Johnson said this is just a piece of what her organization does. Her most proud accomplishment is growing the tech movement.

“Last year we partnered with Governor Evers to get October to be proclaimed as Wisconsin Tech Month, making it a statewide effort,” said Johnson.

Just five years in, Johnson said she hopes to continue her mission of making Milwaukee a tech hub where people can thrive no matter their age, race or gender.

For more information on the organization, click here