Monthly Archives: December 2014

My First Design A Startup In A Day

6:30 a.m. came bright and early when I took the F train from Brooklyn into Manhattan last Saturday. But having joined All Star Code a mere month ago, this was my first chance to see the team in action at our Design a Startup in a Day workshop at General Assembly, and I couldn’t have been more excited.

More than 20 high schoolers joined us to learn about designing a startup. After a round of icebreakers to wake everyone up, we cemented the teams and the mission was revealed: Design a startup – creating a brand, a marketing strategy, a wire frame, and a landing page for your company’s website – and present it in less than 7 hours. No small feat for the teams of five high schoolers each!

The All Stars were lucky to have a talented group of tech mentors present, as well as three All Star alums – Djassi, Devon, and Nikolas – to guide them through the process. Max Weinbrown taught the All Stars the basics of coding to help with their landing pages, and Shiloh Goodin gave them tips about how to wow VCs with their presentation skills. Walking around the room on social media duty, I heard so many creative ideas as the All Stars worked together to solidify their startups. As the day went on, the energy of the teams grew and the excitement in the room was palpable.

5 p.m. came quickly, as parents joined ASC staff, volunteers, and mentors to watch the presentations. With the sounds of Millions March NYC rising up from Broadway, each team presented their startups, ranging from a music sharing app to a solution for finding colleges and internships that match your specific skills. While everyone had amazing ideas, there had to be a winning team in the end. The judges, including All Star Djassi Julien, deliberated and named Safe Space, an app and website to support victims of sexual violence, as the winners of the competition!

I left my first All Star Code workshop feeling even more excited about becoming a part of this organization. I saw our mission come to life in the creativity and passion of these bright young men, who will be the next generation of computer science students, programmers, and tech entrepreneurs.

The day was also bittersweet for the ASC team as it was the last workshop with our Program Manager extraordinaire David Noel. But what a way to go out! The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, thanks in large part to David.

Check out what the day looked like from my perspective in the Design a Startup in a Day Storify, and join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

#OurBoysMatter

The Season of Giving

The holiday season is upon us, and the spirit is catching. Whenever I think of this time of year, I think of three things: friends & family, food comas, and…you guessed it…giving.

GIVING TUESDAY, a movement that started in 2012, and is held annually on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, is a global initiative dedicated to giving back. Giving Tuesday involves individuals, families, companies, and charities alike; the objective is to be as #unselfie (or unselfish) with your giving as possible. So what does ‘giving’ mean? (The dictionary lists 16 different categories for the word ‘give’ and the sub-categories are even more plentiful!) It is clear that giving means a variety of things to each of us. I’d like to share three easy ways you can give to All Star Code.

1. Sharing the All Star Code Facebook and Twitter pages with your friends and followers. In this respect, it’s important to recognize that the word ‘giving’ is not only synonymous with monetary donations. Raising awareness about our organization through social media platforms across various social networks is essential for reaching potential new members of our ecosystem. We appreciate every ‘like’, ‘follow’, ‘share’, and ‘re-tweet’.

2. Volunteering your time as a mentor or volunteer at one of our Design a Startup in a Day or World of Coding workshops. We love getting to know you and seeing how much you help our students to think critically and collaborate effectively with their team members. I have been working with All Star Code for about six months now, and just had the pleasure of attending my first Design a Startup in a Day workshop last month. It was amazing to witness this exciting collaboration firsthand. These workshops are a crucial part of what All Star Code does in the months leading up to our Summer Intensive Program, and we are grateful to have so many of you participate.

3. Providing 20 inspiring young men of color with the resources they needed to learn programming languages and create projects and apps during our first annual six-week Summer Intensive this past Summer. Of those 20 young men, 70% were low-income. We are grateful to give them the opportunity to be a part of All Star Code’s program, free of charge, as a result of supporters like you.

So how can YOU participate in the Season of Giving and create impactful change? For All Star Code, your gift can provide a student with an online domain. It can cover online student accounts for continued hacking programs. It can cover MaKey MaKeys, finches, and other tools for engineers and computer programmers. It can fund hours of dedicated instructional time in the classroom. Or it can even provide a student with a laptop to use for the summer.

As Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” When you consider your end of year giving over the next few weeks, please keep All Star Code in mind. Every donation, big or small, makes a big difference.

Amanda Greenberg