USA Today: #YesWeCode as a diversity pipeline for high-tech


USA TODAYOAKLAND, Calif. -- There are a dozen reasons why Jahmil Eady was an unlikely computer coder.

In college, Eady was a media studies major with a concentration in film. Her loves were "history and art and English," as she told the New York Times. She didn't attend a university like MIT or Stanford, with a powerhouse reputation in the computer sciences.

Perhaps most notably: in a technology industry dominated by white men, she is an African-American woman.

But her life was changed forever by a modest fellowship to attend a little-known computer training program. And thanks to a bold move by New York City's new mayor, that fellowship program is set to grow -- significantly.

Today, Eady works as a junior applications developer at Fox News. More importantly, she has gone from being yet another underemployed young person to a full-time employee with a good salary, health insurance and a 401(k).

Christine Beaubrun, a graduate who went from working at the front desk to front-end engineering at Intel, has a similar story. So does Lavoisier Cornerstone, a rapper turned developer who now works as a developer at a start-up, and teaches kids to code on the weekends.

How did Eady, Beaubrun, and Cornerstone beat the odds? How can others like her do the same? Click here to read more.

 

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CNN: 'Hunger Games,' a mirror of America's inequality

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The latest installment of the epic "Hunger Games" series hit theaters this Friday, and it promises to be the year's biggest blockbuster yet.

You can chalk up a lot of these films' popularity to the star power of leading actress Jennifer Lawrence. Certainly, the great action scenes and special effects do not hurt, either. But the real reason "Hunger Games" has captured public imagination is that its fictional world of Panem is, in so many ways, an extreme version of our own America.

For those who have not seen the movies or read the books, the "Hunger Games" tells the story of a young woman -- Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen -- and her defiance of her society's wealthy, exploitative ruling elite. These elite, the dastardly "Capitol," reinforce their power by making the children of oppressed regions battle to the death in what are called "Hunger Games."

It is a far-fetched fairy tale. But if you get caught up in the details of the story, you might miss themes -- crushing inequality, unaccountable governance, violence against children -- that resonate with the daily lives of millions of Americans.

These books and films are not popular because we want to escape to Katniss Everdeen's world. They are a phenomenon because we suspect her world is our own. Click here to read more.

 

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Huffington Post: This is how we diversify Silicon Valley

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Morehouse College was founded just two years after the Civil War. The Atlanta, Georgia historically black college would go on to be one of only two to produce Rhodes Scholars, and count among its alumni none other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Oct. 24-26, its historic grounds will be the setting for a one-of-a-kind event: The Platform Summit. Luminaries from the arts, business, and politics will join together with young people and future luminaries to produce powerful solutions to diversify the innovation economy.

Today, Dr. King's dream feels in jeopardy. It is harder than ever to get a good job that pays a fair wage. Technology is transforming the economy in ways we cannot yet predict. Blacks, Latinos, and women are horribly underrepresented in Silicon Valley and across the information economy. If you see a black kid walking down the street wearing a hoodie, you are more likely to think of Trayvon Martin than Mark Zuckerberg.

All the more tragic is that the technology sector is crying out for talent. By some reports, there is a shortfall of more than one million high-tech jobs -- while meanwhile, a kid in Oakland has no idea and no access to the help he needs to get himself into one of those high-tech jobs just down the road in Silicon Valley.

Diversity in the tech sector is a problem for all of us. And initiatives like the Platform Summit are the answer. Click here to read more. 

 

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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.


A Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform

More than 600 law makers, criminal justice leaders and influencers gathered together in a sold-out crowd to agree on one thing: now is the time for Criminal Justice Reform.

With one in 100 Americans currently incarcerated at costs upwards of $80 billion per year, political leaders from across the political spectrum united for reform. From ALEC and Koch Industries to ACLU and Drug Policy Alliance, the summit served as the launchpad for unlikely alliances in 2015. 

The summit - hosted by Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Donna Brazile and Pat Nolan - brought together more than 90 speakers to share insights and innovative solutions to our country’s mass incarceration problem.

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Among the speakers were 3 GOP Governors and 10 members of Congress - both Republicans and Democrats - who participated in person or by video.

Featured speakers included: Attorney General Eric Holder, David Simon (The Wire creator), Donna Brazile, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, John Forté (Fugees), Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black author) and Sen. Cory Booker.

President Obama, himself, even made a cameo — via video.

In a pre-taped interview between he and David Simon, the President talked about the national shift in conversation about prison reform and the real-life inspiration behind "Omar Little,” Obama’s favorite character from the hit show. Watch the full video here.

Did you miss the summit? 


WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED. This is just one of many upcoming bold, bipartisan and high-impact convenings to promote one idea: American can safely and smartly cut our prison population in half over the next 10 years.



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