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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
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.
When Amanda emailed me about an opportunity to visit the Muhammad Ali Center for a few days, the first things that registered in my head were a trip to Kentucky and no school. I did not know everything that Rumble Young Man Rumble had in store for us, but it far surpassed my expectations.
When we landed, we met with a friend of Christina’s who began to shed light on Muhammad Ali’s legacy beyond the ring. I always knew he was an incredible athlete, but I never knew that he was such a massive force for social change. Visiting the Muhammad Ali Center was really interesting because there’s a lot about Muhammad Ali that people probably don’t know, like his deep spirituality and his battle with Islamophobia from both whites and blacks.
Rumble Young Man Rumble was built around his six guiding principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Respect, Spirituality, and Giving. Each day of the conference we learned more about what these principles truly meant alongside other young men of color. We had interesting debates, thoughtful conversations, and even built an art project together, all to understand these principles. We shared our stories, our thoughts, and our feelings with each other. In such a short period of time, we were able to create a safe space where everyone felt comfortable sharing how we felt.
It was incredible to be surrounded by so much black excellence, and even more incredible to see how much unconditional love and support these black men and women showed for each other. I felt like I was surrounded by family the entire time. When I was asked to stand up and share my wildest dream of becoming the face of technology, I got emotional at how much support these people were showing me. They didn’t even know me, but they had faith that I would do great things. I was able witness that weekend how far that support could take someone, because on the last night of the trip my best friend Mamadou was accepted to Stanford University as an Early Action applicant. Everyone in the airport must’ve heard us scream when we found out that he got in. I’ll never forget that moment, and I bet that Mamadou won’t either.
Rumble taught me that as an intellectual black man, it is essential to fight, but also to make sure that I have people in my corner to pick me up when I’m down, and people who can heal me when I’m hurt. I’m so grateful for the chance to participate in Rumble Young Man Rumble V, and I’ll never forget those six principles.
Lastly, the best part of Rumble, arguably, is the way we ended each day. We all stood up and yelled: RUMBLE YOUNG MAN RUMBLE!!! AHHHHH!!!
On December 12th, over 70 high school students traveled to General Assembly’s offices in NYC for a day of learning and coding. All Star Hacks was All Star Code’s first hackathon focusing on the diversification of the tech sector.
I helped to organize the hackathon in collaboration with All Star Code. It was smooth, simple, and easy. We didn’t have a lot of time to organize the event, but it was an incredible success in no small part due to the participation of the wonderful All Stars and staff at All Star Code.
My favorite part of All Star Hacks was the Intro to Coding workshop. Many of our participants were first time hackers. Watching the excitement on their faces, capturing their feelings of wonder on camera, and seeing their finished hacks of awesomeness was amazing.
I invited a number of students from my school. Seeing them enveloped in the workshop, keeping themselves involved and amazed was beautiful to behold. Seeing Charles, a freshman from my school, making friends with other first time hackers made me incredibly happy.
Though we ended the hackathon a bit early, bringing together a large number of diverse first time hackers was enough to solidify the success of the event. At All Star Hacks, we gave students a taste of beauty in the tech world. I saw them leave General Assembly that day with a feeling to cultivate that into something bigger.
Written by Surendra, 2015 All Star
A special thanks to the All Star Hacks team including all of our alumni organizers and leader mentors, Isaiah Greene from Google and Phil Marshall from the Paley Center for Media as well as our generous hosts at General Assembly!
Most high school students would do very little besides sleep in on a Saturday morning. But on October 10th, over 60 high school students traveled to the Flatiron District for a day of coding. Local Hack Day is a global hackathon, and The Young Hackers participated by hosting their own Local Hack Day at General Assembly.
High School students from across the city, many of whom were first time hackers, sat anxiously in their seats waiting for the event to begin. NYC’s CTO, Minerva Tantoco, gave awesome opening remarks, reminding the hackers how important their work is, and wishing them luck.
After our Co-Founder Mamadou Diallo gave some additional remarks, the hacking began. Students were forced out of their comfort zones, as many of them didn’t know anyone at the hackathon. They quickly made friends, and soon after teams were solidified. The atmosphere was electric. A constant flow of snacks kept the hackers energized and a series of introductory workshops ensured that every hacker was well equipped, regardless of their prior knowledge of coding.
We had a particularly intense beginner workshop for hackers starting from scratch. When they finished and re-entered the room, everyone in the space applauded them and welcomed them to the Young Hacker family.
Diverse programming kept the spirit and creativity up, from longboard races with mentors to rap-battles with engineers. The sun began to set when dinner arrived, but crunch time was just beginning. Hackers worked hard to polish their projects and pitches one final time before they presented to our panel of judges.
The hackathon was only 12 hours long, but the outcome was amazing. The projects ranged from iPhone apps that made practicing Math fun, all the way to a 3D Frogger-esque escape game. After taking a massive group selfie with a selfie stick courtesy of Major League Hacking, everyone helped clean up before heading home with a new love for technology.
Check out all of the photos from Local Hack Day!
On October 10th, graduates of All Star Code’s Summer Intensive will lead LocalHackDay NYC at General Assembly in cooperation with the Young Hackers, a hacking organization founded by All Stars Austin Carvey and Mamadou Diallo. Hackathons have become an exciting way for All Stars to build their CS skills, network, and engage in friendly competition.
All Star Code is thrilled to support our boys as they establish themselves as leaders in tech community.
What can students look forward to?
If you or someone you know is interested in attending, please register now! No previous coding experience is necessary.
Space is limited. Secure your spot today!
Seven students from All Star Code were named AT&T Scholars, as part of a scholarship program AT&T is funding in order to educate, inspire and equip high school boys of color with the skills to pursue careers in tech. The seven students, most of which are from the New York City area will serve for the next year as All Star Code Ambassadors. They will have the opportunity to network with industry professionals and receive free laptops and other supplies. Students were selected based on a combination of leadership, positivity, work ethic and a demonstrated desire to learn and apply classroom concepts.
“Confident, qualified young men of color who are ready to enter STEM careers are essential to the future of our business and our community,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York State President of AT&T. “All Star Code works to grow the field and we are thrilled to support the program and our AT&T scholars.”
“Our boys are a tremendous pool of untapped talent. Teaching them to code is an investment that has unlimited potential return, whether in new ideas and innovation or increased economic opportunity, and we’re tremendously excited to have AT&T’s help in fostering the next generation of tech pioneers,” said Christina Lewis Halpern, Founder and Executive Director of All Star Code.
The seven All Star Code/AT&T Scholars are:
• Anand Karmaker, a rising junior at High School for Math, Science and Engineering. He lives in the Bronx.
• De Andre King, a rising senior at Urban Assembly Gateway School for Technology. He lives in Queens.
• Uzair Vawda, a rising junior at William Cullen Bryant High School. He lives in Queens.
• John Abreu, a rising senior at Horace Mann School. He lives in the Bronx.
• Kofi Adu, a rising senior at Deerfield Academy. He lives in the Bronx.
• Kwaku Kessey-Ankomah Jr., a rising senior at Cardinal Hayes High School. He lives in the Bronx.
• Sebastian Galvin, a rising senior Proctor Academy. He lives in Norwalk, Connecticut.
“I’m proud to be an AT&T scholar because I met a lot of wonderful people and it’s an honor to represent them,” said Sebastian Galvin, a rising senior Proctor Academy. “To be surrounded by people with similar mindsets as myself in the Summer Intensive, and being able to relate to them as fellow young men of color is truly a gift in and of itself.”
AT&T awarded All Star Code $100,000 through AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature initiative that drives innovation in education to support student success in school and beyond. Through Aspire, AT&T has invested in several innovative education organizations, tools and solutions and engaged its employees through student mentorship.
Of the 40 students in this year’s program, 31 students are local to New York City – representing Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. The other 9 students come from New Jersey, Virginia, Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maryland, representing 7 states in total. More than half of the students identify as African-American/Black, over a quarter identify as Latino, and 10% identify as Asian or Other.
As part of our #techspeakerseries, students will hear from leaders in the New York City tech industry. All Stars will also visit tech offices, such as Dropbox, Yelp!, and YouTube. By the end of the 6-week program, students will have learned 1 college semester level of computer science including exposure to physical computing, robotics, and web applications. They will have built at least 1 video game, 2 mobile web applications, and 1 physical computing device (a toy memory game). The Summer Intensive will culminate with Demo Day hosted at Google, where teams will present their final projects.