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We live in interesting times. Throughout our nation and the globe, individuals are coming together demanding change, opportunity, and access in order to find sustainable, rewarding careers in the 21st century.
All Star Code is meeting that need by fostering the entrepreneurial talents of one of our most vulnerable and overlooked populations, Black and Latino boys. ASC empowers young men with the skills, networks, and mindsets they need to create new futures through technology. We work towards building a world where every young man has the confidence to dare greatly, the safety to celebrate failure, and the freedom to tell his story.
After three years of operation, ASC students have matriculated at top colleges across the nation, from NYU to Hampton to Stanford; founded learn-to-code organizations, and launched their own web development businesses. 100% of our college-aged alums go to college and two-thirds to top universities.
I am proud to share that today All Star Code has committed to continuing to double the size of our Summer Intensive each year. We have announced a target to deliver coding, technology, and entrepreneurship skills through our Summer Intensive to 1,000 students by 2020, as part of the White House’s “Computer Science for All” initiative. (See the Fact Sheet.)
This growth would not be possible without the leadership of the many funders, educators, social entrepreneurs and policymakers who care about empowering our youth with the skills, networks and mindsets needed to thrive in the innovation economy. Thank you all of the individuals, companies, and other funders for your sustaining support.
Over the coming months, we are speaking with partners to discuss this growth. Please take a moment to think about an individual, company, organization or city that is invested empowering our youth and send them our way.
Second, we will be hiring for a number of full-time positions. Please check our website and follow us on Twitter to see the new positions as they become available. All inquiries can be sent to email@example.com.
As you may know, we have called off our Executive Director search and I feel so privileged and excited to continue to lead the organization into the next chapter.
All Star Code Pledges to Deliver Technology & Entrepreneurship Training to 1,000 Students by 2020 as Part of the White House’s “Computer Science for All” Initiative
New York, NY – August 17, 2016 – All Star Code (ASC), a non-profit organization that prepares diverse young men with skills to obtain careers in technology, will announce its commitment to deliver training to 1,000 students by 2020 in coding, technology and career-focused skills as part of the Obama Administration’s “Computer Science for All” initiative.
Computer Science for All, designed to empower kindergarten- through high school-aged students with the resources to learn the computational thinking skills needed to become leaders in the digital economy, is closely aligned with All Star Code’s mission to prepare young men of color for fulltime employment in the technology industry by providing mentorship, industry exposure, and intensive training in computer science.
To date, All Star Code has educated more than 700 students. Already the program has proven to foster a lasting impact, with 70 percent of All Star Code’s Summer Intensive graduates going on to pursue college degrees in STEM fields.
All Star Code’s corporate collaborations and sponsorships with some of the world’s top technology companies, including AT&T, Google, and Goldman Sachs, are another sign of the program’s success. The generous contributions of AT&T and Goldman Sachs, and access to on-site resources and speakers from tech companies like LinkedIn and Uber, have helped secure valuable learning opportunities for ASC’s students.
Over its first three years, All Star Code’s applications and enrollment have increased by 235 percent and 300 percent, respectively. In order to reach its goal of doubling enrollment in the Summer Intensive by 2020, All Star Code plans to expand from New York into the Bay Area and other major cities. In addition, All Star Code aims to invest in its student’s continued success by providing long-term alumni services and starting a “train the trainer” model collaborating with related organizations and community groups to inspire all students to dare greatly, celebrate failure and tell their story through coding.
“We are heartened by President Obama’s investment in computer science and STEM learning, which we believe are not only critical skills in today’s workplace, but also an ideal medium for students to build the life-long characteristics of perseverance, curiosity and confidence needed for future success in business and life,” said Christina Lewis Halpern, founder and Executive Director of All Star Code. “In collaboration with Computer Science for All, we look forward to continuing to grow our program, and joining the national conversation about how to ensure minority males have an equal opportunity and, ultimately, fair representation in the tech industry.”
In addition to the support of key corporate partners, the federal government’s ability to promote and raise awareness of technology-focused programs like All Star Code will be instrumental to ASC’s ability to sustain its growth. Joining Computer Science for All helps expand All Star Code’s network to reach not only a greater number of potential students, but also influential members of the tech and government communities and new corporate partners.
About All Star Code
All Star Code empowers young men with the skills, networks, and mindsets they need to create new futures through technology. We work towards building a world where every young man has the confidence to dare greatly, the safety to celebrate failure, and the freedom to tell his story. We are fostering entrepreneurial talent.
Christina Licata, firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday, August 6th, All Star Code hosted its Third Annual Summer Benefit to raise funds and awareness of the organization’s mission. All Star Code raised more than $740,000 at the sold out benefit.
The rain held off throughout cocktails, so guests could enjoy the ocean view and play with the student-designed interactive game stations. All Star Code students and alums from all three years of the Summer Intensive program designed and ran the gaming stations. This year’s featured stations included Trigger Safe, a security technology for firearms that uses fingerprint scans to avoid improper use, the the All Star Website Showcase, and The Young Hackers, where guests got to experience what it’s like to organize and attend a hackathon as well as learn about the history, mission and future plans of The Young Hackers. Djassi and Zaire had a particularly popular station with Finchlympics, where guests competed in three games with Finch robots.
Dinner followed provided by Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem and awards ceremony with Master of Ceremonies, Maurice DuBois, award winning anchor of CBS. Previous honoree and 2016 Summer Benefit Co-Chair, Frank A. Baker, presented the Visionary Award to Hilton Romanski, Chief Strategy Officer of Cisco, for his outstanding work in the tech sector.
Elliott Breece, Product Manager at Google Play and co-founder of Songza, received the Community Award presented by previous recipient and Google colleague, Marcus Mitchell. Elliott shared the critical importance of the tech industry and our students’ place within it saying that, “The world around us is being rebuilt with 1s and 0s, an increasingly connected and digital world. It’s natural that the people who are rebuilding this world will at some level rebuild it in their own image. It’s critical that young men of color are among the most active builders.”
Co-Chair Valentino D. Carlotti welcomed All Star Code’s Founder & Executive Director, Christina Lewis Halpern, to the stage. Christina spoke to the crowd of over 300 people about the core tenets that All Star Code embodies: Dare Greatly, Celebrate Failure, and Tell Your Story. She spoke about All Star Code’s mission saying, “We empower our students to attack new problems with confidence. We give them the tools to work on problems that lie beyond what they’ve already done. We give them the skills, networks, and mindset to create new futures through technology. What we want, really, is for them to figure out the future.” And we believe that they will meet the challenge.
All Star Code alumnus and current Summer Intensive Teaching Fellow, John Abreu, walked the crowd through his journey of finding All Star Code, and eloquently explained how the program has changed his future career path. Abreu will be attending Boston College this fall. “I believe the true value of this program lies in its placement of young men of color, with ambitions greater than their opportunities, in an industry that drives innovation around the world. An industry where people like me are the overwhelming minority,” John said.
The evening closed with an exciting live auction presided over by auctioneer Alex Berggruen of Christie’s raising over $70,000. Attendees took over the dance floor with MICK keeping the party lit until the lights under the tent dimimed, and another Summer Benefit was successfully behind us.
Countless notable celebrities and personalities took part in the evening including: Jessica White, Maurice DuBois, Jay Williams, Elliott Breece, Hilton Romanski, Nassau County Legislator Carrie Solages, Dr. Nadia Lopez, Anna Throne-Holst, MICK, Alma and Charles Rangel, David N. Dinkins, Founder & Executive Director Christina Lewis Halpern, and Co-chairs Frank A. Baker, Valentino D. Carlotti, and Loida Nicolas Lewis.
A special thanks to the Benefit Co-Chairs, Event Committee Members, guests, supporters, and Alimay Events for making the evening such a success!
Check out all of the photos from the event.
Our 2016 Summer Intensive program kicked off on July 11, 2016! Of the almost 500 applicants, 80 talented and driven boys were selected to join us this Summer. Now in our third year of operation, we’re proud to have our biggest class in what’s geared to be our best Summer so far!
All Star Code believes that young Black and Latino boys should have a fair shot to be able to be successful in all spaces, especially in technology, a sector estimating over 1.4 million jobs by 2020. We have a great lineup of host site partners, speakers, company visits, and a challenging curriculum to keep our boys engaged throughout the summer. With our innovative approach of not only delivering computer science instruction, but also giving these boys industry exposure, we are fostering entrepreneurial talent and investing in the next generation of tech leaders.
All Star Code is once again hosting a cohort of 20 boys at Alley, our inaugural host site in 2014. We are thrilled to have cohorts hosted at Goldman Sachs, Google, and MLBAM, who are all new host site partners this year. These are some of the most innovative companies in New York City who have teamed up with All Star Code to send a clear message about the necessity for diversity in tech.
We also want to thank our funders, because, without them, none of this would be possible. AT&T has grown their support this year and is the lead funder for the 2016 Summer Intensive. We are thrilled to collaborate with them throughout the summer and invite AT&T employees into the classroom to speak with our students. Additional funders include Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Dentons, Panorama, MLBAM, Google, and the Linux Foundation. Our partners and funders help to fuel our mission and keep it alive, as we continue to grow.
As our students go forward through this world, and obstacles arise in school, the workplace, and beyond, we want them to embody the mindset that they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. We are building a world where every young man has the confidence to dare greatly, the safety to celebrate failure, and the freedom to tell his story.
By the end of this Summer Intensive, our boys will have the skills, networks, and mindset they need to create new futures through technology. Live the mission with us and follow our All Stars on their journey. Follow us at @allstarcode on both Instagram and Twitter to get live updates on what is going on at each host site.
-Team All Star Code
All Star Code recently celebrated the accomplishments of our graduating seniors with a college send-off event. During the evening, we learned that more than 60% of the students will be attending top 50 universities in the United States. Graduates will be attending Columbia University, Duke University, Harvey Mudd College, Howard College, Stanford University and NYU just to name a few. Additionally, our graduating seniors have received over $500,000 in scholarships and financial aid.
The evening, hosted at Christina Lewis Halpern’s residence, was filled with excitement and gratitude. All Star Code is extremely proud and eager to support our young entrepreneurs who are already pioneering into this new world.100% of our alumni who are graduating seniors will be attending college.
This year, ASC alumni will be attending the following colleges all around the country and continuing their journeys in becoming the next generation of tech leaders:
Columbia University (4)
Harvey Mudd College (2)
Ithaca College (2)
LaGuardia Community College
Long Island University
New York University
Rochester Institute of Technology
The University at Albany, SUNY (2)
The University at Albany, SUNY (Honors College)
The University of Maryland, College Park
University of Virginia
Do you know of someone who would be interested in a hackathon? Hip-Hop Hacks is a two-day hackathon for high school students to explore technology’s role in hip-hop and how the most popular genre in the world inspires technological innovation.
This event which is powered by Young Hackers (a hackathon organization founded by All Star Code alumni, Mamadou Diallo and Austin Carvey) and the Mixtape Museum will take place Saturday, April 2nd from 12pm to 8pm and Sunday, April 3rd from 11am to 6pm at Spotify headquarters in NYC, 45 West 18th Street.
Bring your laptops! Food will be provided!
A version of this essay was given as a talk at the Rethink Education Summit on February 24th, 2016, at Blue Hill Stone Barns, Tarrytown, NY.
I am the daughter of an icon. Reginald F. Lewis, the first African-American to build a billion-dollar business. He was the first person of color to break into the elite boys’ club of Wall Street boardrooms.
In 1987 he engillion-dollar offshore leveraged buyout to purchase TLC Beatrice International, a sprawling global conglomerate of food companies and brands ranging from an ice cream company in Spain, La Menorquina, a potato chip company in Ireland, Tayto, supermarkets in France, Franprix and Leaderprice, and others. His company was the largest African American-owned business by far, according to Black Enterprise magazine-fourteen times largest by revenues than its closest competitor, Johnson Publishing Company.
It’s hard to convey how key a figure he was and is in the black community. He was the single largest donor to Jesse Jackson both early in his career and in Jesse’s historic campaign for the Presidency. He was perhaps the 1st African-American listed on the Forbes 400, a generous philanthropist, donating millions to Howard University and Harvard Law School. His life arc was and is a shining example for people of color of what had work can achieve, proof that there is hope.
We need hope. And we also need to keep fighting. Schools are more segregated today than they were thirty years ago. African-Americans are underrepresented in Congress, among professional workers, among Oscar nominees. The wealth gap between blacks and whites is frighteningly wide: $11,000 for a black household and nearly $142,000 for a white household. The gap among Latinos is nearly as wide.
Wow. Right? I mean, wow.
My father died when I was 12, in 1993. Losing a parent so young is always hard. The full extent of my loss and grief would only become clear to me as an adult. But what his death did is it sent me searching for a sense of the man that he was. He had become a towering, even godlike figure to my child mind. Who was he really as a person and what made him so special? His life is one of the greatest rags to riches stories in America. But what lies beneath? What was the back-story?
My father was born in 1942 in segregated Baltimore. His mother was 17 years old. He grew up in his grandparents’ house, on an unpaved alley in East Baltimore. Many homes had outhouses in their backyards. He attended segregated schools through college. He played in a segregated little league. He had to sit in the balcony at movie theaters (not that they went to the movies). At his Catholic elementary school, one of the nuns told him he should become a carpenter, to stop dreaming of becoming a lawyer.
These beginnings have some of the tropes of black family dysfunction, and all the force of the American Dream mythology of the self-made man, but don’t be fooled: my great-grandparents had 8 children who doted on my father as their new youngest sibling, and my great-grandfather, Sam, worked as a waiter at fancy hotels and country clubs. The neighborhood was rough. The times were unjust. But, my father had a family and a community. His mother re-married, giving my father five siblings.
Outside of family, he found other angels who saw his potential and helped him rise to help him rise. A few years ago, I began researching for a memoir I wanted to write called Lonely at the Top—a personal journey to understand the legacy I had inherited. As part of this research I met Frank Sander, an 85-year-old retired Harvard Law School professor, also a Holocaust survivor who clerked on the Supreme Court when they decided Brown v Board. He was the driving force behind the creation of a summer program to try to diversify Harvard. It was through this program that my father was able to gain admittance in 1965 to the law school, giving him the credentials he needed to access the private sector.
My father had always told me that his time at Harvard Law School opened the world to him. He had always wanted to be a lawyer. It was not only the first white school he had attended, it also exposed him to an elite network, educated him, and gave him a credential, a stamp that members of society in 1968 took seriously. Graduating from there is how HE could be taken seriously.
After graduating from law school he became a first year associate at a white-shoe law firm in New York and from there he began his climb into Wall Street’s inner circle. His world once all black, was now all white.
My father was at the vanguard of this nationwide struggle to integrate the American private sector. History teaches us about the fight to integrate schools and the military. But, there’s an untold history that is still going on and that is the integration of corporate America. And my father, before he died, believed that the next phase of the civil rights movement was economic. So did Martin Luther King, Jr. It was, after all, called a March on Washington for JOBS and Freedom.
And here was the idea.
I began to wonder, is there some new frontier? Is there some new part of the economy that has not yet integrated? Is there an area where a talented young man like my father would not be able to succeed because it was still closed? The answer came immediately: Tech. Tech today is like Wall Street in the 1960s: an insider-y, clubby world built through an informal network of people we know, people who have the right credentials. Jobs aren’t advertised and the people who drive the industry don’t consider themselves exclusionary, but rather holders of a proud, respected tradition.
And so, I realized there are youth out there now who are not being tapped. There are youth out there who are so unbelievably talented but startup founders won’t hire them, venture capitalists won’t invest in them, because they don’t have the right credentials.
And, you know, I’m a doer. My father didn’t raise me to sit on the sidelines. To paraphrase the bible, those to whom much is given, much is expected. Four years ago, I was a professional journalist, working entirely in the realm of ideas–a professional observer. Yet, this problem–the lack of diversity in tech–felt so urgent to me. But I didn’t do anything about it; I just watched. And saw programs starting for girls, but none for boys. And as the months passed I thought, well, maybe I should work on this. Maybe if I don’t do it, no one else will. Or at least, not as well.
So we’ve built a program that would find and help young men like my father.
The fight had to be passed on. Hope has to be met with an effort to create the conditions to fulfill that hope. The arc of the moral universe doesn’t bend toward justice without people trying to guide its curve. My great-grandparents tried to bend it just a little bit, for my grandmother, and she in turn for my father, and he for everyone he could. Professor Sander at Harvard bent it for him and for other young black students. What we’ve built at All Star Code bends it. And we believe that the young men we’ve met are well on their way to realizing that hope, and creating more. That they are the next step in the arc.
The core tenet of our program, All Star Code, is that we aren’t just teaching computer science. We are setting students up with the skills, networks, and system know-how they need to be successful in the tech industry and overall workforce. Throughout our programming, All Star Code students improve soft skills, develop personal narratives, and learn the principles of entrepreneurship. All Star Code is a powerful intervention that opens our students’ minds to what is possible.
Speaking of students… check out Djassi’s recent speech from the ReThink Education Summit.
Christina Lewis Halpern, Founder and Executive Director of All Star Code, delivered the above speech to a group of tech entrepreneurs at the ReThink Education Summit on February 24th, 2016.
I spent a lot of my childhood with my Grandma. I still spend a lot of time with my Grandma, but back when I was in elementary school I was with her every weekend. When I got to her house, I was always greeted with a hot meal and a seat in her lap. We talked about everything. She asked me about how school was going, what Spongebob’s latest antic was, if I was respecting my parents, everything. No matter what we ended up talking about, at some point she would say, “Dja, one day you’re gonna shine so so so bright. I can’t wait.” She was always in my corner, always fighting for me, always loving me. I’m so grateful I had the support of my family growing up, because as I got older I realized that not everyone saw the same potential in me that my grandma saw.
I went to PS 180, a small school in Harlem, for elementary and middle school. I loved it there, it was like another family. All my friends at school were from the neighborhood too so we got to hang out all the time. My school fought for us so hard, but it was difficult for our little Harlem school to get funding, so resources were limited. When it came time to apply to high schools, our assistant principal, Ms. Marren, told us about the specialized high school test, the entrance exam for the top 7 schools in the city. Ms. Marren worked so hard with us for the next few months to prepare us for the test. My parents both work in education, so they signed me up for a prep class for the specialized high school test as well. It was a tutorial program for young black students. My instructor told us that students studied for years in preparation for this test, so we had to work extra hard to make sure that we had a chance. I studied really, really hard. It upset me that some students had the advantage of years of practice. I was upset that no one thought to look at me and my friends to see if we had potential. I knew that we could blow people away, we just never had the chance to. I used that anger to push me, to motivate me to score above everyone on the test. I ended up doing pretty well on the SHSAT, at least well enough to get into my school, the High School for Math Science and Engineering.
In middle school I was surrounded by people who looked like me, talked like me, and did things the way I did things. High school was a huge culture shock. To be honest, the biggest change was all the white people. That was new, but I also noticed that I got treated a lot differently. In middle school I got asked stuff like, “Did you watch the game last night?” or “What’s gonna be on the Math test later?” In high school I got asked stuff like, “Can I touch your hair?” and “Do you live in the Bronx or Brooklyn?” No one took me seriously. There are 14 black kids in my whole grade, and I was basically the funny one that’s always dancing. All my white friends recounted their experiences interning at publishing companies and courthouses, and I was a little bitter that I had never been afforded those opportunities. It took me my first two years of high school to realize that I didn’t have access to these opportunities because I was black. I felt disrespected, excluded, but above all else I felt ready to flip the script.
At the end of my sophomore year I started looking for summer programs beyond the usual park cleanup job. A couple of days later my mom told me about this new program called All Star Code that taught young black boys how to code. She said that All Star Code was holding a workshop that weekend and that I should go. I realllyyyy did not wanna spend my Saturday hacking away on my laptop in some dark room, and I fought against my mom’s wishes, but she was not having it. Guess who won. I woke up early that Saturday and took the train down to General Assembly for All Star Code’s second “Design a Startup in a Day” workshop. Honestly one of the best Saturdays of my life. When All Star Code launched their application, I filled it out as fast as I could.
When we started new topics in All Star Code, we didn’t get long boring lectures. We got cheat-sheets for the syntax of a new skill and we just jumped in. We learned by doing, which I think was a lot more effective than watching our instructors, Jonathan and Paul type a bunch of loops into their laptops. It was so weird because learning at ASC was so much fun and way different than school. Jonathan and Paul looked at us and saw beyond what society expected us to become. They didn’t see future garbagemen and criminals. They saw CEOs and innovators. They believed that each and every one of us had the potential to change the world, and they worked hard so that we have the tools that we needed to do so.
I want you guys to close your eyes and picture something for me. Imagine what the workforce would need to look like for All Star Code to not have to exist anymore. Keep your eyes closed. If all of you worked in tech, I think that about 25% of this room should be black. That means that 1 in every 4 people that you look at should be black for All Star Code to not be necessary. Open your eyes. That’s why ASC needs to exist and that’s why we need more ASC’s.
I left All Star Code more confident and optimistic than I had ever been my whole life. I kept coding outside of class and I started attending hackathons at colleges across the country. At first I was really intimidated by all these elite college students, but hackathons are super inclusive and collaborative, so I fit right in. We call this the hacker ethos. I honed my skills all year and by the time summer came again I was pretty proud of how far I came. I was starting to see my own potential.
When ASC announced that they were looking for ASC alum to be teaching fellows for the next cohort, I signed up right away. All Star Code did so much for me, and I wanted to give back and help out in any way I could.
This fall I filled out another application, this time for Stanford University. Stanford is right in the heart of Silicon Valley, and it’s a place where I can get a solid tech education without sacrificing my other interests. Two years ago, I never would’ve even considered applying to Stanford, because I wouldn’t have believed in myself enough to think that I could get it. Now, I won’t jinx it, but I think my chances are pretty good. All Star Code gave me the confidence to look inside myself and realize that I’m capable of doing whatever I put my mind to. No other learning environment has taught me as much as ASC did, which is why we need more programs like it. If I had classes at school that were taught ASC style, we’d be pumping out Bill Gates-es nonstop! We have to rethink the way we educate kids in America, because when kids like me discover their potential, that’s when we realize that we can change the world.
Since early February, I have been happily interning twice a week as All Star Code’s Marketing and Development Intern and I love it! It is just what I wanted. So far, I have contributed to the monthly newsletter, blog posts, creating images that are being posted on ASC’s social media channels, donation acknowledgements and so much more.
A little over a week ago, I worked my first ASC event. I was in charge of the swag table. We gave away t-shirts, Google cardboards, several Chromebooks and a MacBook Air. It was an info session for future Summer Intensive participants. During the event their were exciting demos by Microsoft and Google. I had the opportunity to meet brilliant alumni, which sparked my imagination. The alumni are driven, creative and extremely mature. In addition, I was impressed when I met future ASC SI participants. They were so bright and had a passion for coding and technology that I’ve never seen before. I can’t imagine five years ago having such passion for Marketing.
After the event that night, I was inspired by them, the young men. I am so happy to be interning for such a brilliant non-profit, which has such a strong and powerful message.
The team has been very friendly and has welcomed me with open arms. I am looking forward to helping the ASC team organize a successful Summer Intensive as well as the Summer Benefit in 2016.
On March 11, All Star Code’s Founder and Executive Director, Christina Lewis Halpern will be a key speaker and panel moderator at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. The session is entitled Cracking the Codes: Why Black & Latino Boys Matter.
Christina will be accompanied by Marisa Renee Lee, Managing Director of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBKA) and Marcus Mitchell, Senior Engineer Director at Google. She will be part of a session, which answers the questions:
Why are some boys falling behind in the 21st century economy?
What are the consequences of a diversity debt within a startup?
And how are boys’ needs different from those of girls?
Though the exciting interactive panel, Christina, Marisa and Marcus will be providing insight into the projected deficit of highly skilled workers in the US. By 2020,123 million highly skilled jobs will be available with only 50 million workers with the skills to fill them!
Boys of color in the US will soon be roughly 25% of those entering the workforce. The panelists will discuss how investing in these boys across the US, is an overlooked opportunity and can affect a business’ bottom line.
Christina will take the audience through the exciting movement of closing the opportunity gap for Black and Latino boys across the country with a unique focus on tech sector. All Star Code is very excited for this upcoming event and I hope to see you there!
To find out more about All Star Code’s session, visit SXSW Interactive.
Going to be at SXSW? Contact email@example.com to let us know!