The Challenge will award $40 million to accelerate the pace of progress toward gender equality in America.

Contact: Rakia Wells,

SEATTLE, WA (March 8th, 2021) – Ada Developers Academy may be the best kept secret in Seattle until today. Out of five hundred and fifty hopeful applicants vying for the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, Ada has been selected as a top 10 finalist for one of three $10 million awards. This sizable grant opens up possibilities for national expansion and critical support for Black and brown women and gender diverse folks to access and grow in the tech industry.

The Challenge, hosted by Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company—with additional support from MacKenzie Scott and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and managed by Lever for Change—was launched in June 2020 to accelerate the pace of progress toward gender equality in America. In the summer of 2021, the Challenge will grant three $10 million awards, with an additional $10 million to be allocated among finalists, bringing the total to $40 million.

“Gender inequality isn’t inevitable,” said Melinda Gates, founder of Pivotal Ventures. “Solutions exist, but scaling them requires investment. The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge has proven there’s no shortage of actionable ideas to drive progress for women and that donors are willing to meet bold ideas with big resources. Our hope is that this Challenge serves as a source of connection between innovators and funders, so promising ideas can get the support they need to create change.”

Ada’s Growth

This past year, Ada has become an independent 501(c)3, flipped an in-person program to a digital platform, doubled the number of students served, and maintained a 100% student retention rate. The startup is on par to see this growth trajectory continue exponentially with the possibility of receiving this grant.

“We are sitting at the intersection of major job losses for women of color and a high-paying industry that has an insatiable need for talent.” Said Lauren Sato, CEO of Ada Developers Academy. “With women of color making up less than 10% of computer science graduates each year, we know that this opportunity for meaningful change requires a new pathway.  We are so optimistic about this funding because we have a solution that has been working for years and just needs the growth capital to scale. In 5 years, Ada could be getting thousands of women and gender diverse folks into software development jobs each year, and that is economic justice that benefits us all.”

About Ada Developers Academy

Ada Developers Academy is a non-profit, tuition-free coding school that serves women, specifically low-income, Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, and the LGBTQIA+ community. Ada develops software engineers who are skilled, confident, and work-tested; A coding academy that trains strong developers and strong advocates.