The Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce is holding its first annual Silicon Valley Black Youth Hackathon in the heart of the Bay Area. More than just a hackathon, this multi-layered event comprises a 24-hour software development competition, workshops, a 24-hour hackathon, presentations, awards, cash prizes, and more. The first workshops—to provide training and exposure in coding and computer technology—occurred last weekend, but it isn’t too late for you to get involved. Whether you’re a novice or an advanced techie, this challenge offers a way for you to get involved.
Headed by Carl Davis Jr., president of the Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce—which exists to create, identify, and expand economic development opportunities within the African American community—the Chamber has received support from organizations in and beyond the Valley, including Jack and Jill of America, Yes We Code, Rocket Fuel, Bay Area Tutoring, and others, including Black Enterprise BE Smart.
“We’ve been blessed,” Davis gushes. “This event is bringing together some of the most talented young African American minds in the Bay Area. We’re gathering to design, create, and present the best software solution to a pre-determined challenge using not only STEM, but also business principles.”
Davis’s brainchild, the event is open to all black youth ages 16 to 24. At a codefest, the young people will break up into teams that will include coders, engineers, product designers, marketers, and presenters—who must very quickly learn how to collaborate to develop a creative solution to a problem. The youth have been recruited from surrounding county high schools, colleges, and clubs. The winning teams can win scholarships.
Involving roughly 150 African American young people and 50-plus Silicon Valley techies, the techfest includes two challenges around app development: one, to help the San Francisco Bay Area African American community use technology to enhance opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and education; and another, to increase awareness of fitness activities, events, and exercise.
The winning teams will present on Feb. 6—during Super Bowl weekend—and be awarded prizes. Of course, the real prize is getting to participate in such a richly textured extravaganza like this. Training in coding, learning about teamwork, learning about failure and success, exposure to opportunities in the tech space—the no. 1 driver of job growth for the foreseeable future, according to many experts, is a grand prize in itself. According to the New York Urban League, jobs in STEM fields are projected to grow about twice as fast as those in other industries; and STEM careers are among the highest-paying.