All Star Code’s Summer Benefit Raises over $740K!

unspecifiedOn 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.

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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.

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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.

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You can still bid on exciting auction items included in All Star Code’s CharityBuzz online auction or donate today.

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 is in full swing!

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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 SachsGoogle, 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

 

Our Alumni are off to College!

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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:

Boston College

Bucknell University

Columbia University (4)

Cornell University

Denison University

Duke University

Hampton College

Harvey Mudd College (2)

Howard University

Ithaca College (2)

LaGuardia Community College

Lawrence University

Lehigh University

Long Island University

Marist College

New York University

Queens College

Rochester Institute of Technology

Stanford University

The University at Albany, SUNY (2)

The University at Albany, SUNY (Honors College)

The University of Maryland, College Park

University of Virginia

Williams College

Yale University

Hip-Hop Hacks Two-Day Hackathon

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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.

Click here to register

Bring your laptops! Food will be provided!

The Story of the Man Who Was the Most Successful African-American Entrepreneur, and Why It Matters Today

 

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.

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 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.

 

 

My First Month With All Star Code!

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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.

All Star Code at SXSW

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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 amanda@allstarcode.org to let us know!

Rumble Young Man Rumble

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!!!

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All Star Code Hosts First Hackathon, All Star Hacks!

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

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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!