Atlanta-based Women Who Code abruptly shuts down due to finances

The nonprofit organization, with millions in revenues, provided support for women in technology across the globe
The Atlanta office building that housed the headquarters of the nonprofit Women Who Code on Friday, April 19, 2024. The organization announced Thursday it was shutting down.

Credit: Mirtha Donastorg

Credit: Mirtha Donastorg

The Atlanta office building that housed the headquarters of the nonprofit Women Who Code on Friday, April 19, 2024. The organization announced Thursday it was shutting down.

Women Who Code, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that supported diverse women in technology, announced Thursday it was shutting down after a vote by its board of directors to dissolve the organization.

“This decision has not been made lightly. It only comes after careful consideration of all options and is due to factors that have materially impacted our funding sources — funds that were critical to continuing our programming and delivering on our mission,” the organization said in a statement. It did not detail what factors impacted its finances.

Women Who Code (WWCode) had volunteer chapters across the globe, from Kyiv to Kuala Lumpur. The chapters would host in-person and virtual events, helping build community among local women technologists.

The organization also created a repository of learning resources on topics ranging from different coding languages to growing a career, hosted conferences, provided scholarships and discounts for tech courses and posted job openings in the industry. It had more than 360,000 members across 145 countries, according to the nonprofit.

Logo of the nonprofit Women Who Code.

Credit: Handout

icon to expand image

Credit: Handout

WWCode started in 2011 as a Meetup group in the Bay Area of San Francisco and two years later it acquired nonprofit status. The organization moved its headquarters to Atlanta in 2018, in part with the support of The Home Depot. The home improvement giant did not comment on WWCode’s closing.

In 2022, the organization reported revenues of $3.98 million, but its expenses outpaced what it brought in, resulting in an income gap of more than $190,000, according to the most recent tax records available. Salaries, other compensation and employee benefits increased by nearly $900,000 from 2021 to 2022 and other expenses also increased, though the organization ended that year with $3.43 million in net assets.

It’s unclear what the group’s financial picture looked like in 2023. WWCode CEO Julie Elberfeld declined an interview, instead pointing to the organization’s public announcement.

WWCode went through organizational changes earlier this year. In January, the nonprofit’s co-founder and longtime CEO Alaina Percival stepped down and handed the reins to Elberfeld. In February, the nonprofit brought in five new board members.

Last month, the nonprofit seemed to be continuing business as usual. In March it announced a global virtual conference to be held in May and some of its chapters had events scheduled for later in April, including one on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence scheduled for this Friday afternoon.

On a LinkedIn post Thursday promoting the AI event, the Women Who Code Emerging Tech account commented, “Really looking forward to it!” Hours later, the nonprofit announced it was closing and canceled all events.

Across social media, people lamented its closing.

“This is honestly heartbreaking,” Cecilia Martinez, a developer in Atlanta, wrote on X. “@WomenWhoCode has had such an impact on my career and introduced me to amazing people. So sad to see it go.”

Others remarked that the closing seems to reflect a business climate less interested in diversity and inclusion efforts.

“Truly the end of an era and it speaks volumes as to the current state of business + equality,” someone commented on LinkedIn. “Agree 100%,” another echoed.

It’s unclear what will happen with the resources and networks birthed by WWCode. In its statement, the group encouraged its former members to “continue to seek support from other like-minded organizations who authentically support the careers of women in the tech industry and keep inspiring each other as you navigate the industry.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Report for America are partnering to add more journalists to cover topics important to our community. Please help us fund this important work here.