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From street vendor to coding adviser: Engineer speaks about giving back to community

Years ago Devin Jackson said he went from selling tickets to tourists on Times Square to working as an engineer for a number of major corporations.

But Jackson told ABC News that he was disappointed that there weren't that many Black engineers or coders in the industry. So he decided to do something about it and give back.

In 2017, Jackson co-founded the non profit "We Build Back" which hosts meetups, training courses and workshops for up and coming Black engineers.

PHOTO: Devin Jackson, the CEO and co-founder of the non profit 'We Build Back' speaks with ABC News. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Devin Jackson, the CEO and co-founder of the non profit 'We Build Back' speaks with ABC News. (ABC News)

"It's being able to have all of these minds around me and they get to mesh and build and grow together and you don't even know the things that will come out of that," he told ABC News.

MORE: Black developers push to diversify the creators behind the pixels

In the six years since it launched, Jackson said his organization has raised millions of dollars, hosted dozens of events and trained and helped over 3,000 members with their careers.

PHOTO: Devin Jackson, the CEO and co-founder of the non profit 'We Build Back' speaks with students and up and coming computer programers. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Devin Jackson, the CEO and co-founder of the non profit 'We Build Back' speaks with students and up and coming computer programers. (ABC News)

"I became a software engineer and realized that I need to share the blessings with everybody around me and, you know, show my community essentially those freedoms," Jackson said.

Sheree Edmund, a software engineer, told ABC News that the program allowed her the opportunity to grow and have a space to pursue computer programing. Edund, who was diagnosed with high functioning autism three years ago, said "We Build Back," was the best environment for her to hone her skills.

PHOTO: Sheree Edmund, a software engineer, speaks with ABC News. (ABC News)
PHOTO: Sheree Edmund, a software engineer, speaks with ABC News. (ABC News)

"It was a community, [and] an atmosphere where I didn't feel like I had to hide who I was to fit in," Edmund said. "And that made it a lot less stressful to be my authentic self."

Jackson encouraged others to persue their interest in tech and engineering skills, no matter how hard it may seem to break into the industry.

PHOTO:Devin Jackson, the CEO and co-founder of the non profit 'We Build Back' speaks up and coming engineers. (ABC News)
PHOTO:Devin Jackson, the CEO and co-founder of the non profit 'We Build Back' speaks up and coming engineers. (ABC News)

"You got to control what you can control at the end of the day and what you control is yourself," he said. "So get to the grind. That’s really what i want you to take from this at the end of the day. Get grinding."

From street vendor to coding adviser: Engineer speaks about giving back to community originally appeared on abcnews.go.com