Ford STEAM Lab and #YesWeCode bring Silicon Valley to Detroit, empowering students to “hack” education reform

  • Ford STEAM Lab, a Ford Motor Company Fund program, to host a hackathon for 100 middle school students to learn software coding skills, develop solutions to education reform
  • Ford is collaborating with California-based #YesWeCode and Level Playing Field Institute, and two Detroit organizations, Sisters Code and Grand Circus, a tech training company
  • Event features a high profile panel of judges including Stephen Henderson/Detroit Free Press; Van Jones/#YesWeCode; and Skype appearance by Detroit native and rapper Big Sean
  • The hackathon will be held March 27-28 at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center in Detroit. MSNBC will broadcast live from the hackathon on Friday, March 27

DETROIT, March 11, 2015 –Ford STEAM Lab, an educational program from the Ford Motor Company Fund, is bringing the power of Silicon Valley to Detroit with an innovative two-day hackathon to help middle school students improve their education while exploring high-tech careers.

The 100 students from five Detroit-area middle schools will learn the basics of software coding as they create and “hack” an application that will help them learn better. Their projects will be judged by a high profile panel of judges as they compete for bragging rights and more than $30,000 in scholarships and awards.

“Student voice and authentic inclusion is important to students succeeding in education," said Shawn Wilson, manager, Multicultural Community Engagement, Ford Motor Company Fund.

“Ford's goal is to not only empower students to take control of their educational future, but also discover a potential career pathway in Michigan’s growing technology sector.”

Ford STEAM Lab is collaborating with:

  •  #YesWeCode, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization that targets low-opportunity youth and provides them with the necessary resources and tools to become world-class computer programmers.
  • Level Playing Field Institute, an educational organization based in Oakland, Calif., committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
  • Sisters Code, a Detroit organization dedicated to helping women succeed in STEM-related fields.
  • Grand Circus, a company based in Detroit that provides training and other skills necessary to work in technology companies.
  • National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, a national organization that works on strategies to increase the graduation rate in America's schools.

"In the new century, technology is central to middle class jobs and income. We are proud to work with partners like Ford and the Level Playing Field Institute, to support 21st Century opportunities to students in Detroit,” said Van Jones, #YesWeCode founder.

The hackathon will be held March 27-28 at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center at 2826 Bagley St., Detroit, 48216.

MSNBC will broadcast live from the hackathon on Friday, March 27. More details on the program will be announced at a later date.

After learning coding skills on the first day, students will present their app ideas to a panel of judges on the second day. The panel will include Stephen Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Editorial Page Editor of the Detroit Free Press and co-host of Detroit Today on WDET; and Van Jones, #YesWeCode founder, and environmental and civil rights advocate.

At the conclusion of the event, students will hear via Skype about two very different success stories. Detroit native and singer/songwriter Big Sean will speak to the importance of technology in music and how it changed the music industry.

Ford STEAM Lab was launched in October 2014 to spark high potential, low opportunity student passion for technology entrepreneurship and careers in traditional STEM fields, as well as automotive design and vehicle technology. STEAM Lab adds an arts component to help students learn how to use creativity and innovation in problem solving and collaboration.  

Ford Motor Company Fund invests more than $8 million a year in scholarships and other education initiatives. In addition to the Ford STEAM Lab, Ford Fund educational programs include Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Next Generation Learning, Ford College Community Challenge and Ford Driving Dreams Tour. 

Click to see full press release.


FACT SHEET: President Obama Launches New TechHire Initiative

The White House

Office of the Press SecretaryFor Immediate Release

President Obama Announces Multi-Sector Effort and Call to Action to Give Americans Pathways to Well-Paying Technology Jobs; Makes Available $100 Million in Grants

The President and his Administration are focused on promoting middle class economics to ensure that all Americans can contribute to and benefit from our American resurgence. Part of that effort requires empowering every American with the education and training they need to earn higher wages. Today’s announcement is the latest part of that effort: In his remarks to the National League of Cities, the President will announce his TechHire initiative, including a new campaign to work with communities to get more Americans rapidly trained for well-paying technology jobs.

Middle class economics has driven the President from day one, and it is what has fueled our comeback. On Friday, we learned that our economy created nearly 300,000 new jobs in February. American businesses have now added more than 200,000 jobs a month for the past 12 months, the longest streak of job creation at that pace in 37 years. All told, over the past five years, our businesses have created 12 million new jobs.

While we are seeing an economic resurgence, the President has made clear that there is still work left to do. America has about 5 million open jobs today, more than at any point since 2001. Over half a million of those job openings are in information technology fields like software development, network administration, and cybersecurity- many of which did not even exist just a decade ago. The average salary in a job that requires information technology (IT) skills – whether in manufacturing, advertising, retail or banking – is 50 percent higher than the average private-sector American job. Helping more Americans train and connect to these jobs is a key element of the President’s middle-class economics agenda.

As part of that agenda, TechHire is a bold multi-sector effort and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities and community colleges but also nontraditional approaches like “coding bootcamps,” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for a well-paying job, often in just a few months. Employers across the United States are in critical need of talent with these skills. Many of these programs do not require a four-year degree. Key elements of the initiative include:

    • Over twenty forward-leaning communities are committing to take action – working with each other and with national employers – to expand access to tech jobs. To kick off TechHire, 20 regions, with over 120,000 open technology jobs and more than 300 employer partners in need of this workforce, are announcing plans to work together to new ways to recruit and place applicants based on their actual skills and to create more fast track tech training opportunities. The President is challenging other communities across the country to follow their lead.
    • $100 million in new Federal investments to train and connect more workers to a good job in technology and other in-demand fields. The Administration will launch a $100 million H-1B grant competition by the Department of Labor to support innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals with barriers to training and employment including those with child care responsibilities, people with disabilities, disconnected youth, and limited English proficient workers, among others. This grant competition will support the scaling up of evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning, and Registered Apprenticeships.
  • Private sector boosts tools and resources to support and expand continued innovation in technology training, with a focus on reaching under-served populations. Private sector leaders are announcing commitments to provide free training through online training slots and expanding “coding bootcamps” – which provide intensive training for well-paying jobs, often in the course of just a few months – to low-income and underserved Americans including women, minorities, and veterans across the nation. National organizations are committing to work with interested cities to share job and skills information, job-matching tools, and other resources to help support the growth, adoption, and creation of promising practices across the United States.

Details on the Tech Hire Initiative

The TechHire initiative builds on work communities like Louisville, St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York City and the State of Delaware are doing to connect more Americans to well-paying technology jobs through a potent combination of new tools and training models:

Over twenty forward-leaning communities are committing to take action – with each other and with national employers – to expand access to tech jobs: The TechHire initiative will achieve its goals by connecting communities together so promising ideas happening in one community can be rapidly adopted by other regions. Today, 21 communities are stepping up and responding to the President’s call-to-action, including:

Louisville New York City Philadelphia Delaware City of Kearney and Buffalo County Rural Eastern Kentucky
St. Louis Salt Lake City Los Angeles Minneapolis Kansas City Chattanooga
Memphis Nashville Rochester Detroit Portland

Building on the promising work already underway in their communities, they are all committing to three actions:

  • Using data and innovative hiring practices to expand openness to non-traditional hiring: Having a data-driven assessment of employer demand is critical to building a successful regional strategy. Communities are committing to work with employers to build robust data on where they have greatest needs and what skills they are looking for; communities will work with employers to build willingness to hire from both nontraditional and traditional training programs; and communities will work with employers to review -and upgrade -their recruiting and hiring practices to enable non-traditional hiring.
     
  • Expanding models for training that prepare students in months, not years: Communities will recruit, incubate and expand accelerated tech learning programs – such as coding bootcamps and innovative online training – which enable interested non-tech-experienced students to gain coding skills in months, not years. These new models also have potential to reaching to a broader set of students than have traditionally chosen to pursue tech careers. These new training programs can be run both independently or embedded as part of a local community college or university education offering.
     
  • Active local leadership to connect people to jobs with hiring on ramp programs: Communities will build local strategies and partnerships to connect people to jobs, with steps ranging from investing in and working with industry-trusted organizations, which will vouch for those who have the skills to do the job but who may lack the typical profile of degrees and career experience. They will host local tech community gatherings with engaged employers, attract new non-traditional training providers to their regions, and bring visibility to existing local activities such as tech meet-ups, startup co-working spaces or startup-weekends - which are already in place in most middle-size cities or encouraging the founding of these groups if they are not available locally.

The Administration is encouraging more communities and employers to follow in their lead with similar innovative strategies to advance these goals.

Examples of TechHire Community Commitments

    • St. Louis, MO. A network of over 150 employers in St. Louis’ rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem will build on a successful Mastercard pilot to partner with local non-profit Launchcode, to build the skills of women and underrepresented minorities for tech jobs, and will also place 250 apprentices in jobs in 2015 at employers like Monsanto, CitiBank, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and Anheuser Busch.
    • New York City, NY. With employers including Microsoft, Verizon, Goldman Sachs, Google, and Facebook, the Tech Talent Pipeline is announcing new commitments to prepare college students in the City University of New York (CUNY) system for and connect them to paid internship opportunities at local tech companies. NYC will also expand successful models like the NYC Web Development Fellowship serving 18-26 year olds without a college degree in partnership with the Flatiron School.
    • State of Delaware. The new Delaware TechHire initiative is committing to training entry-level developers in a new accelerated coding bootcamp and Java and .Net accelerated community college programs giving financial institutions and healthcare employers, throughout the state, access to a new cohort of skilled software talent in a matter of months. Capital One, Bank of America, Christiana Care and others are committing to placing people trained in these programs this year.
  • Louisville, KY. Louisville has convened over 20 IT employers as part of the Code Louisville initiative to train and place new software developers, including Glowtouch, Appriss, Humana, Zirmed, and Indatus. Louisville will build on this work in support of the TechHire Initiative: the city will recruit a high-quality coding bootcamp to Louisville and establish a new partnership between Code Louisville and local degree granting institutions to further standardize employer recognition of software development skillsets.

A $100 million competition for innovative approaches to connect Americans with disabilities, disconnected youth, and others to the fastest path to a good job in technology and other in-demand fields.

Today the Administration is announcing its commitment to make $100 million available through the Department of Labor to support innovative approaches to moving lower skilled workers with barriers to training and employment on the fastest paths to well-paying information technology and high growth jobs in industries like healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services and other in-demand sectors. The grant will focus on providing workers the skills for a pathway to the middle class while providing employers with the skilled technology workers need to grow and expand. This grant will serve people with barriers to accessing training including people with childcare responsibilities, people with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, and disconnected youth, among others. It will serve both unemployed and low skilled front line workers.

Grants will pilot and scale innovative partnerships between employers, workforce boards, training institutions, non-profit organizations, and cities and states across the country. These partnerships will support the implementation of job-driven training strategies to help workers complete basic and technical skills training using evidence-based strategies such as accelerated learning, work-based learning and Registered Apprenticeships. A solicitation for applications for these partnerships will be available this fall and awards will be made next year. These grants will be financed by a user fee paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program. 

Private sector leaders are announcing tools and resources to scale continued innovation in technology training, with a focus on reaching under-served populations.

Expanding accelerated models for training in months not years:

    • A group of 10 bootcamps are jointly announcing a shared, third-party validated format for annually publishing completion and employment outcomes to help continue to drive innovation in the bootcamp model.
    • The accelerated training providers Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Microsoft, Treehouse Island, Inc., and Udacity will all be expanding free or discounted training slots for underserved communities and individuals.
    • General Assembly will work with community colleges, other training providers, and employers with the aim of further standardizing web development training
      .
    • Flatiron School, Hackbright Academy, and Rural Sourcing are announcing they will provide pro bono consulting to help interested communities expand and improve training.
  • Cisco will provide select individuals interested in career opportunities in IT with free access to online IT networking skills including hundreds of online training assets.

Support for local leaders:

    • Opportunity@Work, a national civic enterprise that is launching at New America today, will aim to connect policy to action and will collaborate with private and philanthropic partners to create freely available tools to scale-up employer commitments to inclusive hiring practices, to facilitate a nationwide learning network for communities, and to create new financing to help lower-income Americans be trained and placed into technology jobs.
    • Capital One, through its FutureEdge initiative, a $150 million effort that will help increase tech skills and hiring, will collaborate with Opportunity@Work to provide support tailored to the needs of communities.
  • #YesWeCode commits to delivering $10 million in scholarships for 2,000 underserved minorities across the nation, to attend coding bootcamps over the next ten years.

Using data and innovative hiring practices to expand hiring to include non-traditional training paths:

    • CEB will develop their own best practices playbook for employers with guidance to private and public employers on how to recruit tech talent from non-traditional sources.
    • LinkedIn will provide free data about the supply and demand of IT skills to communities to help them identify shortages and focus training resources on skills most in-demand.
  • Knack will for the first time make its aptitude test technology available free of charge to employers, communities, and accelerated training providers that are launching inclusive training and hiring campaigns aimed at underserved minorities, women, and veterans.

A complete list of private sector commitments can be found here.

The President’s Agenda to Create Pathways to the Middle-Class Through High-Quality, Job-Driven Training. TechHire is part of the President’s broader agenda to invest in job-driven training:

    • Vice-President Biden’s Job-Driven Training Review. The President’s TechHire initiative builds on the job-driven training review that the President asked the Vice President to lead in the 2013 State of the Union. Amongst other findings, the Vice President’s review identified information technology generally and cybersecurity in particular as an emerging area of growth that requires job-driven training strategies to meet business needs and provide more workers with a path to the middle class.
    • VA Accelerated Learning Competition. To ensure that Veterans can take full advantage of innovative learning models, VA will apply $10M in innovation funding to leverage accelerated learning and test its effectiveness for transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans over the next two years. VA will concentrate this initiative in communities where conditions are conducive for VA to provide industry-specific and place-based support to Veterans and transitioning Servicemembers 
    • American Apprenticeship Grant Competition. Last year, DOL opened a $100 million competition to spur partnerships between employers, labor, training providers, and local governments to expand apprenticeships into high-growth fields like information technology and scale models that work. The deadline for this application is April 30, 2015, and more information is available at the Grants.gov application page.
  • Information Technology Industry-Credentialing partnerships. The President’s FY2016 budget proposes $300 million to fund IT jobs partnerships between regional employers to develop and adopt assessments and credentials that will give more people the chance to qualify for a better, higher-paying tech job regardless of their pedigree.

Click to see full press release.


FACT SHEET: New Commitments to Support Computer Science Education

The White House

Office of the Press SecretaryFor Immediate Release

I’m proud to join the students, teachers, businesses, and non-profit organizations taking big new steps to support computer science in America’s schools. Learning these skills isn’t just important for your future – it’s important for our country’s future. If we want America to stay on the cutting edge, we need young Americans like you to master the tools and technology that will change the way we do just about everything.”

 

-- President Obama, December 2013, on Computer Science Education Week

Last year, to kick off Computer Science Education Week, President Obama issued a call to action to students, teachers, businesses, foundations, and non-profit organizations to join the growing grassroots campaign to support computer science education in K-12 schools. 

The President encouraged Americans from all backgrounds to get involved in mastering the technology that is changing the way we do just about everything, and he encouraged millions of students to learn the skills that are becoming increasingly relevant to our economy.

Commitments Being Announced Today: Broadening Diversity in Computer Science

Improving the participation and success of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science is critical. The number of women completing college degrees in these fields has decreased over the last two decades, and a smaller percentage of U.S. high school students take computer science courses than they did two decades ago. Today, less than 20 percent of students enrolled in AP computer science courses are women or girls, and less than 10 percent are Hispanic or African-American. Furthermore, less than 20 percent of college graduates in computer science are women. A number of leading organizations are taking new steps to address this challenge, including:

 

  • The USA Science and Engineering Festival will launch a prize for computer science classroom design. The USA Science and Engineering Festival is announcing a classroom-design prize competition that will launch on January 5, 2015. Research has shown that small changes in classroom design elements can dramatically affect the attractiveness of computer-science courses to girls. The competition will engage teams of high school students around the country to create cost-effective and innovative designs for K-12 computer science classrooms that encourage more young women to study computer science and pursue careers in STEM. The competition will run throughout spring 2015, and the most innovative ideas will be awarded with cash prizes. Some of the prize winners will be considered for further in-classroom testing and potential deployment in classrooms around the country. The entries for the competition will be student-driven, and the design of the competition was led by the Youth Advisory Board to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in partnership with the Dell Youth Innovation Advisors.
  • A new nationwide initiative to engage Latinas in technology careers. Latinas represent the fastest-growing female population in the U.S. Including their perspectives and talent in information technology is vital to growing our innovation economy. In collaboration with major Latino community influencers and organizations, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is launching a nationwide initiative to engage Latinas in computing and technology careers. NCWIT will leverage its research capabilities and national network of partners to design and launch a national media campaign and supporting program to give Latinas the inspiration to explore technology careers, the resources to engage in computer science, and connections to computer science support networks. Central to this initiative will be strategies to engage Latino parents, families, and influencers in supporting Latinas’ pursuit of technology education and careers. The project will launch on January 20, 2015 with a working roundtable of Latino leaders who will inform messaging and support the implementation of the campaign. 
  • #YesWeCode expands efforts to more youth from under-represented communities into coding.#YesWeCode, a national initiative of Dream Corps Unlimited to support the movement to train 100,000 low opportunity youth to become high-level computer programmers, is announcing that it will host a series of 4-6 youth-focused hackathons in key cities in 2015 including in New Orleans, Detroit, and Oakland. At these hackathons, local youth will team up with professional developers, innovators, designers and mentors to create apps to benefit their communities. This will complement #YesWeCode’s efforts to incubate a national job-training pipeline in Oakland, in partnership with the public school district, major tech employers, independent grassroots coding education groups, and other major community stakeholders. The job-training three-step pipeline is designed to guide youth from introductory coding programs, to immersive job-training programs, and eventually into employment. Once fully realized in Oakland, the plan is to replicate nationally. 

 


Essence Festival 2014

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.

#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.



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