Forty students left West Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday and are expected in Alabama on Sunday, June 28, as part of a historic, multistate road trip and “hackathon” with #YesWeCode.
The 10-day, seven-city tour will visit Selma Sunday and arrive in Birmingham later that night, picking up students at stops along the tour. Eighty middle- and high-school students will end up on the trip.
#YesWeCode is a national initiative to help train 100,000 low-opportunity young people for careers in technology. The aim is to provide them with the resources and tools they need to become world-class computer programmers.
Sponsors of the “Road to #YesWeCode” trip are MSNBC, Ford Motor Company and Power Moves NOLA.
On the trip, students will learn skills such as tech entrepreneurship and mobile app development. They will visit cultural heritage landmarks, historic civil rights sites and historically black colleges and universities.
Van Jones, founder of #YesWeCode, speaks at the Power of Leadership program at Alabama Power.
“This is a life-changing opportunity for these young people,” Van Jones, founder of #YesWeCode, said in a news release. “Through the workshops, we aim to demystify the language of coding, and through the landmarks visits, we want to show them their heritage as well as the possibilities for their future.”
The Alabama Power Foundation is providing support for the bus tour.
“By exposing students to this career field, we are not only shaping the workforce of tomorrow, but tomorrow’s leaders,” said John Hudson, president of the Alabama Power Foundation.
#YesWeCode is collaborating for the second year with Estella’s Brilliant Bus, begun in 2009 by Estella Pyfrom. The retired veteran of 50 years at Florida’s Palm Beach County School District recognized the technology challenges for her students and chose to do something about it. Dipping into her pension fund, she created a nonprofit, state-of-the-art mobile technology and learning center.
The bus tour will visit Atlanta, Selma, Birmingham, Memphis, Jackson, Miss., and end in New Orleans on the July 4 holiday weekend. The top hackathon teams will pitch their app ideas on the main stage at the 2015 Essence Festival.