Broadway World: MSNBC to Present GROWING HOPE LIVE FROM THE BRONX, 9/10


MSNBC will present GROWING HOPE LIVE FROM THE BRONX on Thursday, September 10 at 2 p.m. ET. Thomas Roberts, host of "MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts," will host the one-hour special with MSNBC's Frances Rivera reporting live from the historic Old Bronx County Courthouse.

The special will feature interviews with Assemblyman Michael Blake (D-Bronx), who is hosting "The New Faces of Tech" community event with #YesWeCode, New York City Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco, Van Jones, founder of #YesWeCode, and DJ D-Nice. The broadcast will also examine the jobs of tomorrow and the changing face of technology. Rivera will look at how community-wide initiatives, such as "#YesWeCode Employers' Council," aggregates employers' commitments for providing training scholarships and apprenticeships.

The "Growing Hope" campaign is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and is part of a nationwide initiative thatMSNBC launched in 2014 to raise awareness and highlight issues affecting local communities. Earlier this year,MSNBC and the Ford Motor Company worked together on "Growing Hope Live from Detroit," a special broadcast that highlighted a hackathon hosted by the Ford Motor Company Fund and #YesWeCode for 100 Detroit middle school students, and "A Growing Hope Special: The Cycle Live from Oakland," which served as the kick-off for #YesWeCode and the Hidden Genius Project's Summer of Innovation Program that provided young African American men with computer programming skills and mentorship opportunities.

"MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts" airs weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET.

Click here to learn more about the event. Visit and join the conversation on Twitter by using #GrowingHope.

Source: Broadway World

POLITICO New York Playbook: "MSNBC special on the Bronx to feature Tantoco, Blake"

politico.png-- “MSNBC special on the Bronx to feature Tantoco, Blake,” by Politico’s Miranda Neubauer: “An MSNBC special highlighting the Bronx on September 10 will include interviews with the city’s chief technology officer, Minerva Tantoco, and Assemblyman Michael Blake. The show will feature a community event Blake is hosting with #YesWeCode, an initiative founded by Van Jones to connect low-opportunity young people with computer programming resources and tools. MSNBC’s Frances Rivera will be reporting live from the Old Bronx County Courthouse as part of the Ford-sponsored ‘Growing Hope Live from the Bronx’ special at 2 p.m. The broadcast will examine jobs of the future and changes in technology.”

Source: Politico

The Bronx Chronicle: MSNBC’s “Growing Hope” Campaign Comes to the Bronx


On September 10th, MSNBC’s nationwide “Growing Hope” campaign makes its way to the Melrose section of the Bronx.

The campaign, part of an initiative launched by the media corporation in 2014, aims to heighten the profile of and draw attention to issues which affect local communities.

Broadcasting live from the historic Old Bronx County Courthouse, MSNBC host and anchor Thomas Roberts, along with co-host Frances Rivera, will examine youth job preparedness and the rapidly evolving field of technology in addition to a number of community-wide initiatives which seek to meet the demands of the burgeoning industry.

The one-hour special will also include interviews with the Bronx’s own Honorable Assemblyman Michael Blake who in part with tech organization #YesWeCode, will host a joint community event entitled “The New Faces of Tech”.

A firm believer in the borough’s potential, Assemblyman Blake in anticipation of the event noted “the incredible technology opportunity” and its readiness to transition into an “urban metropolis of the world”.

Visit for more information on the event and join the conversation on Twitter by using #GrowingHope.

Source: The Bronx Chronicle

The New York Times: Silicon Valley, Seeking Diversity, Focuses on Blacks

From left, Mohammed Abdulla, Isaiah Martin, Matthew Jones and Zebreon Wallace take part in the Hidden Genius Project in Oakland, Calif., a program that teaches technological development and entrepreneurial skills to African-American students.CreditPeter Earl McCollough for The New York Times

Having grown up in a single-parent home with an absent father who was frequently incarcerated, Mr. Young, 33, can identify with other young black men he now calls “hidden geniuses” — the promising male teenagers who grow up in challenging circumstances mere miles away, but light-years apart, from Silicon Valley’s tech money machine.

That experience led Mr. Young to found the Hidden Genius Project two years ago. The program immerses high school men of color in coding, web and app design, team building and other skills intended to give them a leg up in the tech economy. Mr. Young says he focused on young men because similar groups existed for young women, and because young males face particular challenges in school and their communities.

His project is one of a multitude of grass-roots efforts that have sprung up recently to address one of Silicon Valley’s most acute diversity problems: the scarcity of African-Americans in the tech industry.

“We are helping these young men to understand who they are and what they’re capable of,” said Mr. Young, who runs his education technology start-up, MindBlown Labs, in the same Oakland building as Hidden Genius Project. “We’re giving them a pathway and putting them on it.”

Silicon Valley has been engulfed in a diversity debate for more than a year, in part because data released by giant tech companies like Google, Facebook and others showed how overwhelmingly tilted the population of tech workers is to white males. The data highlighted that the low number of African-American tech workers is particularly acute, worse than even the dearth of women and Hispanics in the industry.

Google revealed that its tech work force was 1 percent black, compared with 60 percent white. Yahoo disclosed in July that African-Americans made up 1 percent of its tech workers while Hispanics were 3 percent. In areport last month, Apple said it had made progress increasing diversity in hiring in the last year, though African-Americans remained the smallest fraction of its tech work force at 7 percent, compared with 53 percent white, 25 percent Asian and 8 percent Hispanic; the rest were undeclared, multiple or other.

According to the United States Census Bureau, African-Americans and Hispanics have been consistently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations. In 2011, blacks represented 11 percent of the total work force but only 6 percent of STEM workers. Hispanics were 15 percent of the total work force and 7 percent of STEM workers.

The figures released by the tech companies have led to a flurry of initiatives to address the issue. Spurred by advocates like the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who runs the nonprofit Rainbow PUSH Coalition, there are now “black tech” summit meetings and efforts by historically black colleges and universities to produce more science, technology, math and engineering graduates. These have been joined by a growing number of professional networks, including a new Black Tech Employees Resource Group, and nonprofit groups like Black Girls Code and Code2040, which are bushwhacking the professional trail.

The idea with all of the new efforts, Mr. Jones said, is to create a generation of black entrepreneurial “uploaders” — those who create profit-making apps instead of simply downloading them.

How effective some of these initiatives will be remains unclear. “No one new idea will drive systemic change,” said Rosalind L. Hudnell, the chief diversity officer at Intel, which has pledged $425 million over the last few years to diversity efforts. “There is no quick fix.”

At the heart of the issue, underrepresented minorities “are up against a series of barriers and obstacles that their Caucasian and Asian counterparts don’t have,” said Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute in Oakland, which sponsors programs to increase diversity in technology. “The farther outside the tech ecosystem they are, the harder it is.”

And entry into the tech firmament remains challenging, even for African-Americans with engineering degrees. Consider Erin Teague, 33, director of product management at Yahoo, who grew up in a predominantly black suburb of Detroit and later became the only black woman among 1,200 students at the University of Michigan’s engineering department.

At left, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, and Van Jones, a civil rights advocate, addressed the Push Tech 2020 gathering.CreditPeter Earl McCollough for The New York Times

“Everyone around me believed in me and saw me as smart,” she said. “But there was an exposure and access gap. I didn’t know what to dream for.” Eventually she received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and became one of the first 500 employees at Twitter.

With only 1 percent of venture-capital-backed start-ups led by African-Americans, access to capital is also being viewed as a civil rights issue.

“If you’re a 20-something in Atlanta or Oakland, you might not have the familial wealth or the network you need to raise seed-stage funding from angel investors, who are mostly white men of a certain age,” said Monique N. Woodard, the founder and executive director of Black Founders, a group dedicated to increasing the number of black tech entrepreneurs.

Now new networking groups, both formal and informal, are trying to shift that equation. At a “blacks in tech” gathering in Oakland in May, nearly 100 African-American entrepreneurs and diversity advocates brainstormed about Oakland as “the soul city of tech.” A new Bay Area Blacks in Tech organization also met in July at the San Francisco offices of Pinterest, the online scrapbooking start-up.

“Seeing almost 200 black engineers gathered together isn’t a common sight,” said Makinde Adeagbo, 29, a Pinterest engineer and one of the organizers. “We heard about what awesome things black engineers were working on at all these different companies. Events like these remind you that you aren’t alone.”

Ken Coleman, who is African-American and chairman of the data analytics firm Saama Technologies, started a “More Diverse Silicon Valley” event in 2013 at the exclusive Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, Calif. — the Main Street of venture capital — with the goal of enhancing upward mobility and access to capital for blacks and others.

“The most important ingredient for a tech company is talent,” Mr. Coleman said. “It’s shortsighted to overlook talent anywhere.”

Promoting entrepreneurship and increasing the numbers of math, science and engineering graduates has also become an imperative for historically black colleges and universities. About 28 percent of all math and tech-related degrees awarded to African-Americans are from those institutions.

Two years ago, the United Negro College Fund collaborated with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and others to hold an “innovation summit” at Stanford University, which was attended by provosts, deans and faculty members of some of these colleges and universities and intended to forge closer relationships with tech companies.

“It was a very powerful event,” said Chad Womack, a director at the United Negro College Fund, who added that the group visited Facebook and was greeted by Sheryl Sandberg, the social network’s chief operating officer.

Still, the hope that a consortium of tech companies would get together after the event to collectively invest in pipeline issues has yet to materialize. “If you look at the scale and speed with which the Valley moves, if they wanted to solve this problem, they could,” Dr. Womack said.

At the still-fledgling Hidden Genius Project, progress has been incremental, but there is traction. In total, 33 young men have completed the program or are in it, including 19 who just started. Mr. Young said the project had improved the academic performance of young people like Matthew Jones, 18, a student from East Oakland who described himself as a onetime “knucklehead.”

Because of Hidden Genius Project, Mr. Jones said he went from being a C student to graduating from high school with a 4.0 grade point average. He starts college at California State University, East Bay this month, with plans to major in computer science and the goal of becoming a software engineer.

“It’s taught me critical thinking skills and made me a better person,” Mr. Jones said. “I want to keep going.”

Source: The New York Times

Tech Opportunity Comes to South Bronx Youth

Press Contact
Zavé Martohardjono
Communications and Digital Media Manager | The Dream Corps | (646) 853-2728

Tech Opportunity Comes to South Bronx Youth

September 3, 2015 

New York, NY -- On September 10th, top Bronx-based tech companies will showcase the jobs of tomorrow to hundreds of Bronx youth ages 18-25 at #YesWeCode and the Office of Assemblymember Michael Blake’s “New Faces of Tech”. MSNBC will live broadcast the event as their “Growing Hope Live from the Bronx” special at 2 p.m. ET.

Read more

Medium: Support for STEM Education is an Imperative for SF Tech Community

Tech companies in San Francisco are being viewed as changing the complexion of the city. Rents are going up, traffic is horrendous, and the ‘vibe’ has changed in many communities as longstanding locals are being replaced by affluent tech employees. Tech is blamed for much of this, but there is something that every tech company and their employees can do to make a real difference in the Bay Area.

Supporting STEM education is self-sustaining for the tech community. The supply of STEM talent is not keeping up with demand. Successful STEM initiatives help create a growing and diverse pipeline of future skilled employees and there are some incredible organizations in the Bay Area that are focused on a diverse set of STEM issues. By supporting these organizations with their time, talent and financial resources, tech companies and employees can make real progress towards breaking the cycle of poverty in the communities where they work and live.

Thanks to if(we) for providing their beautiful venue and supplying food and beverages for the event

On August 6th, ActOn mobile app brought STEM-focused nonprofits and engineers from local tech companies together in the heart of SF at the corporate HQ of social product incubator if(we). During the event, each nonprofit had a chance to share with the audience their mission and impact as well as their calls-to-action for the tech community. Below is an overview of these incredible organizations — and more importantly, what you can do to support them.

So if you are part of the tech crowd, here is your chance to get involved. Through the ActOn iOS mobile app, you will be able to find all the organizations that presented, learn about their needs and identify differnet ways to help. From donating to mentoring and volunteer or just sharing, you can make a change one act a a time (Protip — subscribe to the San Francisco Channel).

ActOn is a mobile marketplace for social impact. Here is a link to iOS ActOn or search ‘Act On’ (two words) in the app store.

Here is an overview of the 10 organizations that presented and how you can provide support


Nadia Gathers, Development and Communications at Code2040

Code2040 creates access, awareness, and opportunities for top Black and Latino/a engineering talent to ensure their leadership in the innovation economy.

Code2040 needs ambassadors who are committed to supporting black and latina/o students who are interested in pursing a career in the tech industry. Code2040 also helps place candidates with companies who are committed to creating a culture that ensures people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed.

Roberta Guise, founder of Femresources

FemResources will advance tech women’s careers, fill the pipeline of female tech workers, and make employers bright stars for bringing gender equality to their tech workforce.

FemResources needs web development resource, social media marketing support, help creating and maintaining a CRM database.

Daisha Mshaka, Community Manager at Hack the Hood

Hack the Hood is an award-winning non-profit that introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities. During workshops and 6-week “Boot Camps,” young people gain valuable hands-on experience building mobile-friendly websites, executing search engine optimization, and helping businesses get listed in local online directories. In addition to relevant technical skills, youth also learn critical leadership, entrepreneurship, and life skills under the guidance of staff members and volunteer mentors who are professionals working in the field.

Hack the Hood is looking for volunteers and mentors who can open doors for low income, high potential youth in Oakland. A great way to connect with Hack the Hood is to attend their current cohort graduation party on Aug 12th at 6:30pm at the Impact HUB in Oakland.

Rebecca Wilson, Development Director at the Hidden Genius Project

The Hidden Genius Projecttrains and mentors black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.

The Hidden Genius Project is looking for volunteers who can visit our classroom sessions to speak with students about their role and function within the technology sector and share their personal experiences in pursuing educational and career growth. They are also looking mentors who have expertise in website design.

Wes Bailey, Director of Program Operations Presented for The Last Mile (yes, that’s Guy Kawasaki in the pic)

The Last Mile is an innovative non-profit focused on curbing recidivism, prepares incarcerated individuals for successful reentry through business and technology training. California’s recidivism rate within 3 years of release is 66% — the highest rate in the country. The Code.7030 program guides inmates through a deep dive of software and web development, JavaScript, and an array of computer programming tools to prepare them for jobs after release.

Software developers are encouraged to participate as mentors, on the curriculum development team, and by developing internal systems for the program.

James Lee and Hilary Naylor, Board Members at MOUSE Squad

MOUSE Squad of California’s mission is to empower underserved youth, grades 4–12, to learn, lead, create and collaborate with technology, preparing them with skills essential for their academic and career success.

MOUSE Squad is looking for technical (and non-technical) professionals to do one of three things: 1) come speak to young people about your career, 2) conduct a hands-on demonstration and 3) host a fieldtrip at your company. All three of these are powerful, yet simple, ways to engage youth in real world STEM opportunities and help continue to diversify the tech field.

Hue Mach, Founder of and Reuben Garcia

RRR Computer is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to divert old computers from being sent to recycling centers, and instead send them to the desks of low-income K-6 students. The three Rs in our name stand for Reclaim, Refurbish, and Reuse. At, we believe there are better uses for old computers than being scrapped for parts and creating unnecessary e-waste in landfills. We believe every child should have a computer at home in order to be successful in their education.

If you or your business has older or non-functioning computers, please donate them to RRR by filling out this form or dropping off at a donation drive on the last Thursday of each quarter (Mar, June, Sept, Dec).

Marjorie Schlenoff, President and founder at Teach with Africa presented at the event

Teach With Africa’s goal is to increase local capacity by bringing educators to Africa both teach and learn. Teach With Africa supports academic programs, sustainability efforts and social entrepreneurship initiatives by placing highly qualified educators in underserved schools in South Africa. In addition to working directly with students, Teach With Africa Fellows partner with school faculty to share best practices on instructional methodology, differentiated learning, critical thinking, lesson planning, assessment practices, technology integration, and curriculum development.

Teach with Africa is looking for IT mentors and/or math or science teachers to volunteer in rural and township areas of South Africa for 2 weeks to 2 months. They are also looking for volunteers, with skills in finance, accounting, social media, or fundraising.

Rachel Wold, Partnerships and Community Director at Techbridge Girls

Techbridge inspires girls to discover a passion for technology, science and engineering. Through hands-on learning, we empower the next generation of innovators and leaders.

Techbridge is looking for mentors to serve as a “Role Model” (commitment of 2 hrs or more to visit girls in class, opportunities Sept-June, training provided). You can also get your company involved: Arrange a field trip for our students, or a role model training or brown bag lunch talk about Girls in STEM for employees

Jen Kim,Deputy Director at #YesWeCode

#YesWeCode is an initiative that targets low-opportunity youth and provides them with the necessary resources and tools to become world-class computer programmers. By learning this highly valuable and relevant 21st century skill, these young people are shifting the trajectory of their futures and transforming their relationships with their communities and their country.

#YesWeCode is looking for volunteerscorporate sponsors for events, and companies interested in building meaningful partnerships with workforce development programs.

Here are some other great STEM-focused organizations that you can support through ActOn


Through community outreach programs such as workshops and afterschool programs, Black Girls Code introduces underprivileged girls to basic programming skills in languages like Scratch and Ruby on Rails. is a non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.

Girls in Tech is a global non-profit focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of influential women in technology and entrepreneurship. We focus on the promotion, growth and success of entrepreneurial and innovative women in the technology space.

The Level Playing Field Institute is committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and fostering their untapped talent for the advancement of our nation.

LPFI is still looking for youth participants and adult mentors for our hackathon on August 22 and 23 at Twilio. We are particularly looking for more mentors from underrepresented communities, including women and people of color.

Mission Bit is a nonprofit that offers FREE programming classes taught by experienced engineers and entrepreneurs to San Francisco public school students.

Samaschool uses the Internet to provide low-income people with training that connects them to the digital economy. Our learning programs provide students with in-demand skills, resources and the support they need to be successful in online work and their careers.


Click here to read more.

White House Names San José A TechHire City

#YesWeCode has been named as a key partner for two new White House TechHire cities: Oakland, CA and San José, CA.
Read below to see the press release from the San José Mayor's office.

Ebony: 8 Companies Attack the Digital Divide

#YesWeCode is proud to included in this great roundup of companies attacking the Digital Divide. 



Back in 2014, when it became public knowledge that the big tech players (Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google) weren’t hiring enough women and people of color, there became what seemed like a national call to action to get these underrepresented groups ready for tech careers.

With this big diversity push also came an increasing number of organizations creating tech opportunities for communities of color by launching coding academies and schools, providing programs that offer tech entrepreneurs much-needed resources, and directly connecting young people to tech careers and opportunities. Here are eight of them.

Starter League

Founded in Chicago in 2011 by two African-American men (Mike McGee and Neal Sales-Griffin, both Northwestern graduates) as Code Academy, Starter League is an 11-week program that teaches people how to build web applications. With a mission to teach people to solve the problems they care about with technology, the program also partners with Chicago public schools to train teachers how to code, so they can teach their students.

To date, over 1,000 people have taken classes at the tech school, learning everything from web development, HTML and even user experience. When the founders first launched the school, they did it because they find a dearth of in-person code training around the country. “So we decided to build it,” McGee told Emerging Prairie.

Black Girls Code

After working in the chemical engineering and biotech field for 25 years, in 2010 Kimberly Bryant decided she wanted to become an entrepreneur. After networking a bit, she kept hearing about the lack of women and people of color in tech. So she connected with a developer from Code for America and two biotech colleagues to launch a pilot program in 2011 in a low-income community.

Now in 2015, the San Francisco-based tech company, with a mission to increase the number of women in color in the tech space, has reached over 3,000 girls of color ages 7 to 17. With chapters in nine cities as well as pilot programs in Dallas and Miami, the program offers afterschool and weekend workshops and summer camps in programming, game development, robotics and tech entrepreneurship. There are also hackathons, where the girls work together to build problem-solving apps.


AllStarCode prepares young men of color for full time employment in the tech industry by providing mentorship, industry exposure and intensive training in computer science. After seeing programs aimed at preparing women for careers in tech, Christina Lewis Halpern (a former journalist for The Wall Street Journal) discovered there weren’t many programs aimed at young Black men.

An increasing number of organizations are creating tech opportunities for communities of color by launching coding academies and schools.

“This is a group that doesn’t have advocates and needs more people who are able to speak for them in this industry,” Lewis Halpern told FastCompany. “I saw that that’s something I could do, and also it seemed that if I didn’t do it, I didn’t think anyone else would.”

The daughter of the richest African-American man in the 1980s, Reginald E. Lewis, Lewis Halpern credits her father’s success to the Harvard Law School summer program he attended when he was young. The program runs year-round workshops, hackathons and a six-week summer intensive. Some of the program’s alumni have gone on to run high school hackathons, intern at tech companies and win full scholarships to Ivy League universities.

Hack the Hood

Funded by the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth, and the Thomas J. Long Foundation, Hack the Hood launched its first full summer program in Oakland in 2013. The program introduces low-income youth of color to careers in tech by hiring and training them to build websites for real small businesses in their own communities.  

During workshops and six-week boot camps, young people gain valuable hands-on experience building mobile-friendly websites, executing search engine optimization, and helping businesses get listed in local online directories. In turn, the youth get to develop portfolios of the work they’ve done to prepare them for landing jobs in the tech sector. In addition to relevant technical skills, youth also learn critical leadership, entrepreneurship and life skills under the guidance of staff members and volunteer mentors who are professionals working in the field.

In 2014, the program was awarded a $500,000 grant after placing in the top four of the Google Impact Challenge—a contest that gave $5 million to nonprofits with innovative ideas to make the Bay Area stronger. By 2016, the program officers plan to train over 5,000 young people and build over 10,000 websites for local small businesses.

The Hidden Genius Project

The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors Black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship and leadership skills in hopes of getting them ready for the high-tech sector. In Oakland, not far from Silicon Valley, these young men are learning new languages like Python, HTML5 and Ruby on Rails. With companies like Pixar, Pandora and housed in Oakland, it’s disconcerting that they’re not tapping into the talent right from the local community. The project aims to prepare young men for careers at those companies.

To join the program, the young men have to apply; once accepted, they must commit to attending classes twice a week, beginning with an eight-week long, 40-hour-a-week summer school. Over the course of two years, participants develop a mobile app from concept to completion. After the first year, students get to work on projects from paying clients.

Founded by Jason Young, Kurt Collins, Kilimanjaro Robbs, Ty Moore and others, the Project wants to create an ecosystem for tech talent. “The goal is, after we’ve worked with them for an entire year, to then have them stay involved at a different level,” Hidden Genius Project volunteer Kilimanjaro Robbs told Mashable. “Maybe they become mentors to the younger students while they’re still working on something at a higher level. But at the end of the day, the end goal is to make them all employable. That’s the bottom line.”


Since August 2013, Emile Cambry’s BLUE1647 launched to provide a co-working space for local tech startups and serve as a learning lab for students on the south and west sides of Chicago. The organization also hosts a summer youth coding boot camp. Having worked with thousands of Chicago students, BLUE1647 is teaching a host of technology skills in web, mobile and game development.

“I saw a bunch of youth what needed jobs and opportunity. And I saw a lot of stuff in tech. I thought, lets try and educate the next group,” Cambry told ChicagoInno. High school students create projects directly related to their lives, like a DJ app program or projects in fashion tech, like necklaces created on 3D printing machines.


Van Jones, along with Global Social Enterprise expert Amy Henderson and Internet tech expert Cheryl Contee, started #YesWeCode with the plan of preparing 100,000 low-income kids for careers in technology. Launched at the 20th annual Essence Festival last year with a hackathon and headline performance by Prince, the organization (in partnership with Facebook) powered its website as a search tool for youth to find local coding education resources, linking them with coding schools like Black Girls Code and Hack the Hood.

#YesWeCode also launched a $10 million fundraising drive to provide scholarships to youth who can’t afford to pay for coding classes on their own. “#YesWeCode aspires to become the United Negro College Fund equivalent for coding education,” Jones told USA Today. “#YesWeCode exists to find and fund the next Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg in communities you would never expect to find them.”


Demographers believe that by 2040, minorities will become the majority in the United States. Tristan Walker and co-founder Laura Weidman Powers want to capitalize on that by preparing Black and Latino engineers to become part of the innovation economy. Less code school and more an internship mentorship program, CODE2040 started in 2012 to place the top performing Black and Latino engineering undergraduates in internships in tech jobs in Silicon Valley. Often tech companies say they want to increase diversity, but they don’t know where to find the talent. That’s the problem CODE2040 is helping to solve.

“The reason we called it CODE2040 is that in the year 2040, Black and Latinos will be the majority of the country. If we are not incorporating the perspective of what will be the majority of our country in 20 or 30 years, something is wrong,” Walker told Mashable.

On the other side, for students it increases awareness about the kind of careers that can be available to them and provides them with the access to those careers. Before entering the fellowship, applicants must pass a coding exam, a phone screen, and then a matching process with one of the organization’s host companies. This year, Google will back a new pilot program for CODE2040 in Chicago, Austin and Durham, North Carolina, giving minority entrepreneurs in each city a one-year stipend and free office space.

Read original article on EBONY

Mississippi Business Journal: Can innovation in Mississippi be a national model?


In my last column I showed that Mississippi has vast untapped potential for innovation, mainly because of our human asset.  Based on research first published in 1962 in the book Diffusion of Innovations we have we have the potential to build an army of roughly 74,000 innovators.  While statistically, this number represents just 2.5 percent of our population, these individuals are our current and future “game-changers” in whichever field they choose to engage in.

I choose the word army deliberately because the innovation journey is not an easy one.  It has many landmines and obstacles along the way, and strategic planning is vital to succeed on this path.  Ironically, we may be our worst enemies when it comes to making Mississippi an innovative place to live and invest in.  Research also shows that for every innovator there are six to seven times as many people who have a tendency to resist change and can often subconsciously derail the adoption of innovations.  I will be discussing more about adopter categories and personality types in the future columns, but for now it suffices to say that we have to change our mindset on how we nurture and facilitate the army of nearly 74,000 game-changers to march forward.

This brings me to the presentations, discussions and the hackathon that took place in Jackson as part of the TECHJXN Innovation Summit and #YesWeCode Hackathon on June 30 – July 31.  These two days could potentially go down in the history of Jackson to mark an event that served as a catalyst to kick off a strategic planning phase toward the development of the TECHJXN Innovation Corridor.  An innovation corridor or hub is a designated area which is set up to encourage and facilitate the growth of local innovators and entrepreneurs.  TECHJXN’s unique approach seeks to enable participation for underrepresented communities in the innovation economy and demonstrate a model that may be replicated in cities around the country.  “The lens through which TECHJXN views low-performing communities is the same lens through which investors view the potential in a promising startup. The focus is on investing in value, cultivating and mentoring talent and reaping a return on investment. Everybody wins!” said Mike Green, co-founder of ScaleUp Partners and a key TECHJXN organizer.

Five major trends were identified at the TECHJXN Innovation Summit by various local and nationally recognized experts from the Silicon Valley, Ohio, Oregon and Texas.  These trends are increased e-commerce, inter-connectedness of various disciplines such as healthcare and information technology, creation of massive data and the corresponding analytics for visualizing trends, increased competition for talent and resources, and finally a realization that change is fast and getting faster.  In addition to education, they each stressed the importance of plain old hard work and the power of networking.  Mayor Tony Yarber and several leaders from Jackson State University expressed strong support at the summit to grow the region’s innovation economy and contributed a tremendous amount of personnel and financial resources to ensure a successful Summit and Hackathon.

We are in a very disruptive period in the history of mankind when it comes to technology evolution.  For example, FastCompany reports that a staggering 300 hours of video, or two weeks’ worth of footage is being uploaded to YouTube every single minute! The factories that make the Internet possible are not only the manufacturing facilities which assemble the computers, hardware and mobile devices to access the web, but think of a today’s data centers as factories as well where banks of liquid or air cooled computers and data storage devices are spinning away to store, reroute and analyze information literally at the speed of light.

Human talent is the life blood of such technology-based economic development and we need to take specific steps to develop that in Mississippi.  During his keynote at the TECHJXN Summit, Governor Bryant, himself a pioneer in e-government, stated that “we cannot segregate knowledge and opportunity” and pointed out a need to increase computer coding classes in our schools. The Summit was followed by the largest-ever multi-state hackathon held in Mississippi facilitated by #YesWeCode and Estella’s Brilliant Bus.  Nearly 80 kids from underserved schools in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi participated in the hackathon to develop mobile apps which solve social and economic issues that confront the students themselves.  One of the teams in Jackson came up with the idea to address the issue of clean water by developing the prototype for an app that enables your smartphone to be used as an UV (ultra violet) water purification device.

After staying for two nights in the JSU dormitories and seeing what college life is all about, all 80 “digital freedom riders” traveled to New Orleans to compete in the 2015 Essence Festival Hackathon where the boy’s Jackson team won first place! The Estella’s Brilliant Bus contingent had two teams in the top four.  Kwame Anku, director of strategic development for #YesWeCode said it very eloquently at the opening of the TECHJXN Summit, “#YesWeCode was founded to change the paradigm of how we perceive black kids in hoodies. A white kid in a hoodie could be a Mark Zuckerberg, but you think of Trayvon Martin when you think of a black kid in a hoodie.”  The proof, that this working, is in the victory of these teams on a national stage in New Orleans.  Given the right opportunities, guidance and training, students from Mississippi are indeed innovating and changing the game!  Stay tuned for more on the TECHJXN Innovation Corridor.

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VIDEO: #YesWeCode Digital Freedom Ride

WLBT: #YesWeCode Mississippi students are hacking for social good.


Metro Morning Live covers our ride across the South to Essence Festival with Estella's Brilliant Bus and TECHJXN!