In a post a while back, I shared the history of my salary as I grew into a career in the tech industry. For the last 7 years I have moved into having a ton of class privilege and I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time to share my strategy for one of the ways I try to give back as someone with more money resources. I share this also as a way to hold myself accountable using actual data instead of vagueness. When left to vagueness even my best intentions don’t add up to how much I believe I should be giving – when I do my taxes at the end of the year, I am surprised that I didn’t give away as much as I felt I did. Some of the money I give away isn’t to typical charities but I know that if I was to go back and add it all up, I’d still fall short of what I want to be giving.
I’ve created a spreadsheet where I can track my donations month over month and make sure I’m holding up my commitment to my strategy and so that, at the end of this year, I will know exactly how much I have to hand over to complete my plan.
It’s a simple strategy, based on doing 10% tithing of my post-tax income. I want to put the bulk of it into sustaining monthly contributions as those help organizations plan longer term projects and then I have two categories for ‘unplanned’ giving: random 501c3 organizations (or whatever local community member/gofundme comes up) and then the second is for cash in hand to share with people on the street (most often in SoMa where I work).
I’ve published the spreadsheet so that anyone who is interested can follow along. It will update as I add more data throughout the year. Click on the image below to go to the published page.
I’m interested in hearing how you donate money, what your strategies are, how you track yourself — what’s missing from this year’s plan that I hope to work into future years is: how could I take some of this money and put it into investments or other ways of growing the principal so that more money can be made from that money to give away? I was talking with Damien about this at Lesbians Who Tech and it was the first time that idea came up but now I’m intrigued. How can those of us without family money/major inheritances find ways to build wealth and create trusts & grants that can persist beyond our lifetimes? Big questions. Today, I’m just going to start with finally publishing my 2017 plan.
 Other ways of giving back include advising and sitting on boards, leveraging my company’s space and budget to assist non-profits, spreading the word around my networks to get increased visibility for fundraising, and volunteering my time with several programs of my own creation and also more traditional existing ones.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to build out your software development skillset with a focused contribution to an open source project? Do you want to work with a small team where you can have a big impact?
We’re once again looking for someone committed to learning the deepest, darkest secrets of release management when shipping a big, open source software project to half a billion users. Our small team of 3 employees already has one contributor who has been a consistent volunteer for Release Management since 2013 and has worked his way from these tasks to taking on coordination and growth strategy for the Extended Support releases. Our commitment to contributors is that we will do our best to keep you engaged and learning, this is not grunt work, it’s deep participation that matters to the organization and to the products we ship.
You’ll need to consistently commit a 1-3 hours a week to helping analyze our Nightly channel (aka mozilla-central or ‘trunk’) and raise issues that need prompt attention. The very fabulous volunteer who takes on this task will get mentoring on tools, process, and build up awareness around risks in shipping software, starting at the earliest stage in development. On our Nightly/trunk channel there can be over 3000 changes in a 6 week development cycle and you’d be the primary person calling out potentially critical issues so they are less likely to cause pain to the user-facing release channels with larger audiences.
A long time back, in a post about developing community IT positions, mrz recalled a post where I stated that to have successful integration of community volunteers with paid staff in an organization there has to be time dedicated to working with that community member that is included in an employees hours so that the experience can be positive for both parties. It can’t just be “off the side of the desk” for the employee because that creates the risk of burnout which can lead to communication irregularities with the volunteer and make them feel unappreciated. For this community release manager position I will dedicate 1-3 hours each week to actively on-board and guide this community Release Manager contributor in order to ensure they get the skills needed while we get the quality improvements in our product.
Here is the “official” call for help, come get in on the excitement with us!
- Are familiar and interested in distributed development tools (version control, bug tracker) typically used in an open source project of size (remember when I said half a billion users? Ya, it’s not a small code base)
- Want to learn (or already know) how to identify critical issues in a pool of bugs filed against a code base that branches every 6 weeks
- Have worked in open source, or are extremely enthusiastic about learning how to do things in the open with a very diverse, global community of passionate contributors
- Can demonstrate facility with public communications (do you blog, tweet, have a presence online with an audience?)
- Will be part of the team that drives what goes in to final Firefox releases
- Learn to coordinate across functional teams (security, support, engineering, quality assurance, marketing, localization)
- Have an opportunity to develop tools & work with us to improve existing release processes and build your portfolio/resume
- Can commit to at least 6 months (longer is even better) of regular participation – this will benefit you by giving you time to really get hands-on experience and understanding of release cycles
- Mentor and guide your learning in how to ship a massive, open source software project under a brand that’s comparable to major for-profit technology companies (read: we’re competitive but we’re doing it for a mission-driven org)
- Teach you how to triage bugs and work with engineers to uncover issues and develop your intuition and decision making skills when weighing security/stability concerns with what’s best for our users
- On-site time with Mozillians: select attendance at team & company work weeks – access to engineers, project managers, and other functional teams – get real world experience in how to work cross-functionally
- Provide work references about how awesome you are, various swag, and sometimes cupcakes 🙂
I’ll be posting this around and looking to chat with people either in person (if you’re in the Bay Area) or over video chat. The best part is you can be anywhere in the world – we can figure out how to work a schedule that ensures you get the guidance and mentoring you’re looking for. Reach out to me in IRC (lsblakk), on Twitter (@lsblakk) or email (lsblakk at mozilla.com).
Look forward to hearing from you! Let’s roll up our sleeves and make Firefox even better for our users!
I’m trying to bring the second pilot of the Ascend Project http://ascendproject.org to New Orleans in February and am looking for a space to hold the program. We have a small budget to rent space but would prefer to find a partnership and/or sponsor if possible to help keep costs low.
The program takes 20 adults who are typically marginalized in technology/open source and offers them a 6 week accelerated learning environment where they build technical skills by contributing to open source – specifically, Mozilla. Ascend provides the laptops, breakfast, lunch, transit & childcare reimbursement, and a daily stipend in order to lift many of the barriers to participation.
Our first pilot completed 6 weeks ago in Portland, OR and it was a great success with 18 participants completing the 6 week course and fixing many bugs in a wide range of Mozilla projects. They have now continued on to internships both inside and outside of Mozilla as well as seeking job opportunities in the tech industry.
To do this again, in New Orleans, Ascend needs a space to hold the classes!
Space requirements are simple:
* Room for 25 people to comfortably work on laptops
* Strong & reliable internet connectivity
* Ability to bring in our own food & beverages
Bonus if the space helps network participants with other tech workers, has projector/whiteboards (though we can bring our own in), or video capability.
Please let me know if you have a connection who can help with getting a space booked for this project and if you have any other leads I can look into, I’d love to hear about them.