Hackathon empowers youth to transform NOLA into their own Silicon Valley


A Black Mark Zuckerberg? Hackathon empowers youth to transform NOLA into their own Silicon Valley

Tired of waiting for Silicon Valley tech companies to design solutions for their neighborhoods, New Orleans youth will unite with technologists and innovators to create their own during #YesWeCode Hackathon.

Jun. 17, 2014 - NEW ORLEANS -- More than 50 13-20 year olds and 200 technologists are anticipated to participate in the #YesWeCode Hackathon taking place on July 3rd - July 6th, 2014 at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center hosted by Qeyno Labs and Rebuild The Dream. In this all inclusive hackathon, youth will pair with technologists, developers, designers and community leaders to focus on building apps centered around education, environmental sustainability, restorative justice, music/entertainment and health/wellness.

Qeyno Labs founder, Kalimah Priforce, recently was awarded and recognized as a White House Champion of Change for his previous hackathon efforts with the Black Male Achievement Hackathon hosted in the city of Oakland, California. The organization is known for designing apps aimed to help bring an end to mass incarceration, bridge the digital divide and limit casualties of the late Trayvon Martin,  Oscar Grant and others who have experienced great injustice. Priforce wanted to make the New Orleans hackathon inclusive of both young females and males because he believes in the power of supporting a young Maya Angelou, Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. More importantly Priforce believes in the burgeoning tech scene in New Orleans.  His goal is to create the building blocks for restructuring Silicon Valley so that local youth and entrepreneurs feel included in the community.

"We are not interested in launching hackathons to build more photo sharing apps or finding pizza at 3am. We want to build and design technology that makes sense to a population that needs it, and who better to lead the development of this technology than the youth in this community. We want every young person to feel and be treated like an asset. We want every developer, designer, and innovator professional to experience what it is to work with their hidden genius and return to their workplaces, homes, and learning institutions with a positive narrative of today's millennial generation. It is time for the youth to lead, and #YesWeCode Hack will provide them with the tools to hack together their own future,” shared Priforce.

The #YesWeCode Hackathon will take place during the 20th Anniversary ESSENCE Festival “Year of Empowerment,” which will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Essence Festival is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States is proud to partner with #YesWeCode to introduce youth to technology and coding. The #YesWeCode Hackathon has already received support from community organizations like the Kapor Center for Social Impact, National Center for Women & Information Technology, Blacks In Technology, INTech and many others. The Kapor Center has sponsored 4 teams of youth to attend the hackathon from cities the Bay Area.

"The Kapor Center is dedicated to highlighting the presence and power of underrepresented people in the tech ecosystem, “ stated Cedric Brown, Managing Partner of the Kapor Center for Social Impact.  “The #YesWeCode Hackathon is a key opportunity for youth of color to have hands-on participation in tech, opening up doors of future possibilities.  We are proud to sponsor four Bay Area teams for this event.”

From hosting workshops, serving as youth mentors, to sponsoring the hackathon, tech companies like Salesforce.com, ThoughtWorks, Google and many others have also joined the Qeyno Labs and Rebuild the Dream in their mission to provide an encouraging and electrifying environment where everyone works together to build solutions to some of the community’s toughest problems.

At the end of the #YesWeCode Hackathon, Qeyno Labs aims to ensure all participants (adults and youth a like) walk away with a sense of accomplishment, inspired by experiencing what is possible when brilliant people get together to solve problems.

Full press release here.

"Diversity brings so much more to the table - and by focusing outside of the usual and rewarding all sorts of people in tech - we can only make it better. #YesWeCode is doing exactly that."
- Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple