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Portland singer starts non-profit to get women of color into tech industry

Janay Woodruff, who performs as JanaeSound, marries virtual reality and music. With her new non-profit, CYWOC, she wants to get women of color tech jobs.

PORTLAND, Maine — When Janay Woodruff looks at a sheet of music she sees not just notes,  she sees the future. The singer who performs as JanaeSound has been integrating virtual reality technology into her acts and wants to get other women of color involved. 

Woodruff has founded a non-profit, Coded by Young Women of Color or CYWOC for short, to educate women ages 18-30 in an intensive 12-week course to learn how to code and then help them find jobs in Maine's tech industry. 

It's an ambitious goal but one she believes in. 

"I started to learn more about VR (virtual reality) and I learned that women of color are less than 5% of the tech workforce," Woodruff says she knew she wanted to do something to create systemic change in her own community. 

Currently, women from Maine can apply for the course which will be held sometime this summer. The 350-hour course will be of no cost to the women and the pilot program will educate 10 women. The cost of the pilot program is $50,000. Woodruff has corporate sponsors from Hannaford, Martin's Point, and Bangor Savings Bank. 

Woodruff is lending her voice to the cause. Currently, she is offering an interactive show that Mainers can watch with VR headsets. The cost is $300 and Woodruff brings the VR sets to your home and makes sure you know how to use them. Then you and four other people attend a virtual show and can interact with each other.

Woodruff is still looking for coders and educators who want to volunteer for the non-profit.