WUWM is honoring the lives of Latinos in Milwaukee and their contributions to the community during Hispanic Heritage Month.We’ll bring you stories about the contributions and influence Hispanic and Latino Americans have had on our history, culture, and community.Listen for reports during Morning Edition and tune in for conversations during Lake Effect at noon through October 15.

Latinos in Tech co-founder talks Hispanic Heritage and Wisconsin Tech Month

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Ben Juarez is the co-founder at Latinos in Tech. The organization will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and Wisconsin Tech Month with events aimed at increasing the Hispanic presence in the tech industry.
Courtesy of Ben Juarez

Hispanic Heritage Month overlaps with Wisconsin Tech Month in October. Ben Juarez, co-founder of Latinos in Tech, will host events to teach Spanish speakers about coding and its presence in Mesoamerica.

Latinos in Tech is an organization that provides services for people that are not in tech and training events for Latinos that are already in the field.

According to the Latinos in Tech's website, the organization’s goal is to help Latinos meet the projected 13% growth of technology occupations by 2030, and increase the percentage of minorities working in tech.

Juarez says that starts with getting children involved.

“There are a lot of people in our community that haven't really thought about technology as a career,” he says. “We see that a lot, especially girls.”

Juarez says he’s worked with students to help them understand the tech industry and demystify coding.

“There’s not much programming in schools,” he adds. “They don't get it at an early age.”

Another reason Juarez attributes to the low numbers Hispanics working in tech is the lack of Latino family members who work in the industry.

He also says there is a lack of knowledge about “our ancestral heritage in South America.”

“The concept of zero being developed here in the Americas — the Mayans they developed the concept of zero on their own without any influence. The Aztecs, the Mayan calendar — I mean, I could go on about the astronomy. The engineering feats are amazing.”

Juarez says that's what Latinos in Tech wants to inform kids about: “Your Mesoamerican side accomplished incredible feats that are still being used today.” Juarez gained a passion for coding started when he turned 30 and read a coding book written by a person of color.

“To see somebody of color write a 400-page book on Python was so cool," says Juarez. "What if somebody would have told me when I was 12 or 16 that I could do this?”

On Sept. 24, Latinos in Tech will host an event in Spanish at Discovery World. The program will cover how to get into the industry and introduce people to software like Canva, Wix and MailChimp.

“It's going to be for Spanish speaking businesses, but we're also inviting Spanish speaking students to go because we think that they would actually have a lot of fun with Canva and with Wix because those really simple design tools,” says Juarez.

In October, the organization will partner with Milky Way Tech Hub to celebrate Wisconsin Tech Month. More than 20 organizations will host over 70 events.

Juarez says one of the main events for Latinos in Tech will be the Somos Tech Summit in partnership with UW-Milwaukee. Engineering students will be invited to UWM's Lubar Entrepreneurship Center to showcase their work. Latinos in Tech is also working with a historian to create an exhibition that highlights some of the engineering feats and astronomy of Hispanic cultures.

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Eddie Morales joined WUWM in 2022 as a reporter. Before working at WUWM, he was the North Shore communities reporter for the Now News Group and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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