Startup Weekend Black Male Achievement Hackathon
This post originally appeared on the Institute for Black Male Achievement blog.
Last weekend, I attended the first Hackathon for black male achievement: “Could an app have saved Trayvon Martin.” Pulled together by local organizations, businesses, funders and residents, the event invited dozens of black boys and young men to work with seasoned coders to design apps that would improve their lives and the lives of their peers. It could not have been more inspiring.
On the first day, the young men pitched their ideas to a captivated audience. The most popular ideas advanced to the next round, where teams worked tirelessly for dozens of hours to turn them into real, fully-functional products. Altogether, 15 apps were developed. There was Connect the Dots, a social networking site that enables black youth attending predominantly white schools to support each other. There wasCourtDate, which uses text reminders to keep youth out of jail. And then there was HelpCircles, which enabled youth to quickly alert someone they trust that they are in danger.
Watching 8th graders design tools that empower them to conquer the challenges in their environment spoke to the potential for technology to fundamentally transform the work that we do – and the lives of those who face the greatest barriers to success. On the last day, judging began. The event began by asking whether an app could have saved Trayvon Martin. The winner: HelpCircles, showed that it could be answered by a group of young black male coders in just one weekend. If we continue to support events like these and push for further inclusion of black males into the tech sector, we will create scalable and sustainable solutions to promote the success of black males, their families, communities and the nation.