Looking for Open Source Leaders

Since 2012, a friendly monster has helped workshop organizers plan and track their events. Bridge Troll is a Rails app that provides a single site for students and volunteers to RSVP for workshops, simplifies the task of creating class groupings for the workshop day, and provides follow up surveys afterwards. It started for RailsBridge, and now MobileBridge, GoBridge, ElmBridge, ElixiBridge and ScalaBridge are actively using it!

Bridge Troll is an open source project, which means its care and feeding have been a labor of love by over 80 contributors led by partners Travis Grathwell and Lillie Chilen. Travis has been the lead on development with over 60% of the commits to the codebase, while Lillie has led the feature definition and adoption efforts. Together they’ve shepherded Bridge Troll from a simple database front-end to a full-fledged application that has helped Bridge Foundry analyze the success of our mission.

Now Lillie and Travis are taking a well-earned step back from Bridge Troll and looking for volunteers to take the lead.

On the coding side, this is a great opportunity for experienced developers who want to build the leadership skills needed for managing a development team. In addition to guiding the architecture of the Bridge Troll app, development leads maintain code quality and mentor more junior developers.

On the product design and evangelism side, there are multiple hats to wear. Lillie is currently filling three key roles: prioritizing and specifying new features, reaching out to Bridge Foundry chapters to help with adoption and providing administration and guidance for new workshop organizers using Bridge Troll while also helping them understand what makes a great Bridge workshop.

Interested? Know someone who would be great at continuing to care for and grow Bridge Troll, it’s easy to help:

  1. Drop a note to drop a note to ilen@bridgefoundry.org saying you’d like to help.
  2. Just go here and pick something from our “Help Wanted” issues work on:


    Want to help with product design? Pick an item in the Help Wanted list and clarify it so that developers can start work. If you need context, the staging environment is a safe place to explore the app: https://bridgetroll-staging.herokuapp.com/

    Want to help with development? Start addressing one of the “Help Wanted” issues in the list above and submit a pull request. (Don’t forget to write tests!)

Want to help with something else? Get in touch! ilen@bridgefoundry.com

Looking for Open Source Leaders

Welcome Kari, Coraline, and Anna to the RailsBridge board!

We’re thrilled to announce three new members of the RailsBridge community have joined our board of directors!


Kari Bancroft is a Software Development Instructor at Ada Developers Academy where she works as a teacher and mentor for growing junior developers. Kari has previously worked as a Senior Software Engineer and an Instructor for a Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program at Facebook. She is extremely passionate about helping new developers find their place in the industry. When she’s not teaching or writing code, Kari is probably playing with her dog Kylo, dancing around the house or writing songs about snacks. Find her on twitter @karianneban.


coralineCoraline Ada Ehmke is a speaker, writer, teacher, open source advocate and technologist
with 20 years of experience in developing apps for the web. As the founder of OS4W.org and creator of the Contributor Covenant, she works diligently to promote diversity and inclusivity in open source and the tech industry. She works for GitHub as a senior engineer on a team devoted to creating community management and anti-harassment tools. Coraline is also writing a book on empathy in software development. Her current interests include refactoring, code analytics, and artificial intelligence.


annaAnna Neyzberg attended her first RailsBridge workshop in 2013. It was incredible and was what inspired her to learn to code. Since her first workshop, she has been looking for ways to give back to the amazing RailsBridge community. The past two years she has served as the organizer manager and then chapter lead for the SF chapter. She works as an engineer at Carbon Five and is a co-organizer of SF.rb, a new Ruby meetup in San Francisco. When she is not working or community organizing, she likes learning to climb rocks and looking for places to have a delicious cappuccino.


Thank you to everyone who submitted an application to join the board! RailsBridge is lucky to have you in our community, and we look forward to continuing to work with all of you on making tech better.


Welcome Kari, Coraline, and Anna to the RailsBridge board!


The RailsBridge board is excited to announce our organizational initiatives for 2016 and 2017! Broadly, we want to reach more communities that are under-represented in technology, create stronger communities in areas that currently have workshops, and sponsor workshops in more geographic areas.

The goals came from a lot of discussion. The Board of Directors drafted the first version in late 2015 and worked with the Advisory Board to refine them. Reaching our goals will take the effort of many RailsBridge chapters and leaders around the world, and we’re excited to have so many talented volunteers. (If we happen to reach all these goals in the next 6 months, we’ll set new ones!)

For each of the goals, we want to share the specific goal, why it’s important to us, and ways that you can help us succeed.

Initiative One: Reach New Populations

RailsBridge has historically focused on running workshops for women, and though we’ve partnered with other communities over the years, this year we’re officially expanding our outreach to other under-represented populations in tech, including people of color, LGBTQ folks, non-native-English speakers in the United States, and low-income groups.


The board will work with eight of our existing chapters to partner with local organizations and hold a workshop for an under-represented group other than women.


Working with women was a natural place for RailsBridge to start; our two founders were women trying to get more women into the San Francisco Ruby community. But our ambitions have always been bigger. We want to make the Ruby community as a whole more welcoming to diverse people.

Some chapters have already been working with other groups — for example, RailsBridge Savannah has focused on low income populations from the beginning, and RailsBridge San Francisco has put on workshops partnering with groups like Black Founders and the Latino Startup Alliance.

Working with a new population requires understanding where they’re coming from, and also finding representative instructors. So it’s important for us to partner with organizations that already have strong community ties. For this initiative, we’ll seek those partners and work with the chapters that have experience with this kind of outreach, and ultimately create a guide that other chapters can follow.

How You Can Help

If you know of an organization that might be a good partner for presenting a RailsBridge workshop, please get in touch! Although our goal is to help existing chapters expand their outreach, if you want to help organize a workshop in a new place, please let us help you! The RailsBridge board plans on doing fundraising in conjunction with Bridge Foundry to be able to financially support these workshops. Email community-partnerships@railsbridge.org to learn more!

Initiative Two: Build and Support Communities

RailsBridge has historically held 2-day workshops that provide technical instruction in software development. Over time, we’ve discovered that their biggest impact has been the tight-knit, inclusive community the workshops foster rather than in the immediate technical instruction.

We want to support more community building, and where it doesn’t happen currently, we want to help organizers move from putting on occasional, isolated workshops to creating regularly-occurring events that help people learn together.


The board will support five of our existing chapters in running their second or third workshop, while working to reduce organizer workload and lower potential burnout.


So many of our attendees tell us that the best thing about a RailsBridge workshop is the feeling of belonging they get, surrounded by people like them who are near their skill level and are also figuring out if software development is something they want to do.

The relationships that form at RailsBridge workshops can be powerful and long-lasting, and are cemented by ongoing contact at other events. We want to help more RailsBridge chapters develop this sort of ongoing community.

At the same time, we recognize that organizing an event is a lot of work, so an important part of this initiative is making it easier to run events and recruit volunteers. Rachel Ober of RailsBridge NYC gave a great talk at Open Source & Feelings about her experience as a RailsBridge chapter leader.

The RailsBridge Chapter Committee is currently developing a toolkit to help chapters make the leap from one-time event organizers to their second or third workshop. We hope to help chapters with things like volunteer recruitment, fundraising, and internal communication so that they can be successful.

How You Can Help

If you’ve had a workshop (or a few!) in your area but haven’t been able to have more, please get in touch! We’ll work with you to facilitate community and learning without burning out.

We could also use your help in improving our chapter toolkit, whether you’ve organized one workshop or twelve. For early access, or to tell us that you’d love to help with the chapter toolkit, please email communities@railsbridge.org.

Initiative Three: Expand to New Areas

RailsBridge’s organic growth has been tremendous, and in 2016, for the first time, we will target particular metro areas for new RailsBridge workshops.


We will provide financial and logistical support for workshops in fifteen new areas. We’re still working with partners to determine which specific areas will have the biggest impact.


In 2015, we expanded nine new cities organically; fifteen cities is a stretch goal for us, and we want to do it without taking significant resources away from our first two initiatives.

We have the ability to support new cities in a variety of ways, including connecting people in the area who want to help, working with institutional partners in the area, helping with outreach to students, or helping with money. The kind of support RailsBridge provides to each new city will depend on what organizers need.

How You Can Help

Organize a workshop in a city that hasn’t had one! We’ll make sure you have the mentorship and support you need. It will be a lot of work, but incredibly rewarding.

You can also connect us with companies and organizations in cities that could host or sponsor a workshop in a new area. Email expansion@railsbridge.org to start the conversation!

2016 and Beyond

Thanks to everyone who helped shape our 2016 goals. We’re incredibly excited about the direction of the organization. This year is our most promising yet because of the hard work of the hundreds of volunteers that are continually organizing, teaching, and giving input about what could be even better.

Achieving everything we want to in the coming years will require time, energy, and financial resources. We would love your individual support via PayPal, or if your company or organization wants to become a sponsor, please email hello@railsbridge.org.

See you at a workshop!


Join the RailsBridge Board!

What is RailsBridge?

RailsBridge puts on technology workshops as a free and fun way to get started or level up with Rails, Ruby, and other web technologies. Our events focus on increasing diversity in tech, so that people of all backgrounds can feel welcome and comfortable in our industry.

We teach people to code because we believe that the people making technology should accurately reflect the diversity of those using it. We want to push for all kinds of diversity in tech: gender, race, sexual orientation, ability, and class. We value acceptance, enthusiasm, and hard work. The RailsBridge community thrives on optimism and a love for making great things.

We Want You!

We have one immediate opening, and two more open board positions beginning June 1st. Start dates are flexible, but we’re hoping to have some overlap between outgoing and incoming board members, so new members might invited to join as soon as April.

You might enjoy working on the RailsBridge board if:

  • You enjoy big-picture thinking, but also really like getting things done.
  • You want to help increase communication between RailsBridge chapters and reduce volunteer burnout across the whole organization.
  • You care about creating sustainable processes to keep the RailsBridge board effective beyond your tenure.

Although there are no financial expectations to join the board, we do ask that you meet the following criteria:

  • You have organized or participated in at least 2 prior RailsBridge workshops
  • You’re excited to understand and help improve our mission and strategies, policies and programs, strengths and needs.
  • You can actively participate in the board and are able to chair or co-chair one committee.
  • You can attend a minimum of three quarters of board meetings per year.

The board is currently made up of four women, but we are definitely happy to have new board members of any gender identity! We’re also looking for people with a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds, so even if you haven’t been involved with RailsBridge for years and years, we’d love to hear from you if you think you’d be able to make a positive impact.

RailsBridge Board

RailsBridge’s continued success depends on the personal commitment and active involvement of our board members who are advocates and enthusiastic communicators of the organization’s mission and vision. Our current board is made up of 4 people: Lillie Chilen, Sarah Mei, Rachel Myers, and Bianca Rodrigues.

What does the board do?

The current iteration of the RailsBridge board got started during the summer of 2014, and officially announced its existence in January 2015. Since then, we’ve worked on a wide variety of projects, including:

  • Working with our parent organization, Bridge Foundry, to establish a better expense reimbursement process for organizers and volunteers;
  • Establishing committees and recruiting volunteers to work on important cross-chapter functions, including Finance, Chapter Outreach, and Fundraising;
  • Commissioning a new logo for RailsBridge;
  • Creating the RailsBridge Advisory Board, so that a larger group of dedicated volunteers could advise the board;
  • and importantly, figuring out how to work effectively as a distributed, busy team of volunteers.

How does the board work?

In addition to our monthly meetings, we have a monthly Slack check-in, where we discuss ongoing projects and make decisions. Asynchronously, we communicate primarily via a private Slack channel within the Bridge Foundry Slack org, and also through email.

We have an annual board retreat during the North American summer, where we reflect on our past efforts and make plans for RailsBridge for the next year.

Join us!

If you’re interested in joining the board, please fill out our Board Application form. If you know of someone who would be a good addition to the board, please share this post with them.

Lastly, please pass this post along to your RailsBridge community — we’d love to consider candidates beyond the current board’s networks! Thank you so much for your help in spreading the word.



Join the RailsBridge Board!

RailsBridge has a new logo!

During the last three months, the RailsBridge board, along with Meghan Schofield, a designer based in San Francisco, worked to create a new logo for our community. It was a super fun and engaging process, and here is the result:


Why did RailsBridge need a new logo?

For a long time, the organization didn’t have a representative image that conveyed the true spirit of our community: a warm, welcoming and inclusive space open to collaboration and fun while still learning and teaching. That’s why the board made re-branding a priority.

Meghan patiently guided us through the design process. She knew how to drive the conversation and decision making through all the stages of the creative process, from initial brainstorming to tweaking the final logo.

The goal of this rebranding was to express what RailsBridge means and offers to the community: inclusivity, collaboration, responsibility, friendliness, creativity, and fun. We hope this comes across to our broader community, and we’re excited to know what you think!

This is one of the first steps towards the realization of many other projects for 2016, which we are eager to accomplish. Without any doubt, this year will be an incredibly exciting year for RailsBridge.

RailsBridge Chapter Logos

Since most RailsBridge chapters don’t have their own logos, we’re excited that Meghan designed the logo as a system. This will allow each RailsBridge chapter to use the new logo, while still identifying themselves as a specific chapter.


If you run a RailsBridge chapter and want to start using the new logo, email us at hello@railsbridge.org or let us know in the RailsBridge organizer Slack channel! (If you’re not a member yet, email hello@railsbridge.org and we’ll add you.)


Wouldn’t you love having a sticker, t-shirt, or hoodie with this new logo? We’re working on upping the RailsBridge swag game! Stay tuned — physical objects take a bit more manufacturing time than updating images and CSS, and we want to make sure you love it.

In the meantime, take a look at our redesigned website, Twitter, and Facebook pages. Pretty cool, huh?

Blast from the past

To close, here’s a look at the RailsBridge logo over the years, starting all the way back in 2009. We’ve come a long way!


RailsBridge has a new logo!

Our Chapter Committee is Here!

We’re excited to announce that Nicole Amos and Sharon Siegel have joined the newly formed Chapter Committee. They are joined by existing RailsBridge Board members Ana Castro and Bianca Rodrigues.

This group will streamline the process of starting a new chapter as and manage our existing chapters as we continue to expand throughout the world. We’ll be sharing more information on proposed changes in the next few weeks and months.

In the meantime, please read on below to learn more about our rad new volunteers!

Nic headshotNICOLE AMOS is an Operations Analyst and recent bootcamp graduate from Atlanta, GA. She loves the idea of facilitating complex issues between software engineers and business analysts. For the past six months, she has been getting acquainted with her local tech scene and spreading praise of programming to all who will listen. She is looking forward to learning more about Ruby by teaching new students.

Nicole spends her spare time watching movies with subtitles, dragging her two two daughters to tech meetups and sampling as many flavors of small batch ice cream every place she visits.

Sharon_S_HeadshotSHARON SIEGEL is a teaching assistant at Skillcrush where she helps students with various programming topics and languages. She loves challenges and learning new things. She is also a Chapter Leader of Girl Develop It Fort Collins. It was through Girl Develop It where she first learned of RailsBridge. She is passionate about education and tech and is excited to help the growing RailsBridge community.

When she’s not coding or learning something, you can find her reading a good book, playing board games, or taking walks with her dogs. You can tweet her at @acodeinprogress or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Our Chapter Committee is Here!

The RailsBridge Chapter Outreach team needs you

RailsBridge is seeking new and experienced organizers to join the Chapter Outreach Team!

One of the RailsBridge board’s major goals for 2016 is to better support existing RailsBridge chapters and make it easier to start a new chapter. Our documentation for running an individual workshop is extensive, but we currently don’t have much written down for setting up chapter leadership, coordinating ongoing fundraising, and managing the workload of recurring workshops.

We’re looking to start a team to streamline chapter outreach and communication and create a kit for new chapters. This kit will provide new chapter organizers information and advice collected from RailsBridge chapters about topics like working with the RailsBridge finance team and using the Board and the larger RailsBridge community as a resource. Anyone who has organized a workshop before (even just one!) would be a great member of this team.

Applications for the positions will close on November 15, 2015. Email us with questions at volunteer@railsbridge.org.

Read through the volunteer openings with have here: http://bit.ly/railsbridge-volunteer-descriptions-2015

Apply to join a RailsBridge team here:

The RailsBridge Chapter Outreach team needs you