Spotlight On ASC Alums: Volume 1

DevonDevon Howell
Age 16
Rising Senior
Bronx High School of Science, Columbia University Class Of 2019

​ASC. Looking back, what was the most valuable thing you learned at the
ASC Summer Intensive?

​DH​. I learned that failure IS an option, so long as it is a springboard for success. I am defined by failures only in the sense that they have added experience to my life.

​ASC​. What tech related activities are you up to now?

​DH​. I am involved in an organization called The Young Hackers. My job is to organize mentors and workshops during our hackathons. I make sure that everyone who needs help gets it.

​ASC​. What piece of advice would you give to the next cohort of All
Stars?

​DH​. Always challenge yourself. If you’re not struggling, you’re likely not learning. Taking on challenges give you valuable experience and an indescribable sense of accomplishment.


EricEric Razor
Age 16
Rising Junior
Academy for Software Engineering

​ASC​. What was your favorite part of the ASC Summer Intensive?

​ER​. My favorite part of The ASC Summer Intensive was networking. I got to meet so many incredible people like Michael Lisovetsky and Jason Marmon, who have a real estate startup called Skylight (Check it out!) I also loved team building every Wednesday with my fellow All Stars. I got to know so many different lives. ASC truly changed mine.

​ASC​. Looking back, what was the most valuable thing you learned at the
ASC Summer Intensive?

​ER​. The most valuable thing I learned at The ASC Summer Intensive was to ask. Along with coding, learning to ask is the most powerful tool you have. One of our speakers, Avi Flombaum of The Flatiron School, was really good at emphasizing the need to struggle. Struggle leads to asking good questions. You never know until you ask.

​ASC​. How did ASC help you find or create your current opportunities?

​ER​. I would have never been able to do what I can do now without ASC. I am a lot more curious. I ask a lot more questions. I want to know why things work the way they work. I tackle problems more slowly. I ask for help. I refuse to give up.


AustinAustin Carvey
Age 16
Rising Junior
High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College

​ASC​. What was your experience with coding and tech prior to participating in All Star Code’s workshops and Summer Intensive?

A​C​. Before All Star Code, I completed one Javascript course. The course gave me a high level understanding of many coding concepts, but no real experience with how to implement them, and no real hacking philosophy either.

​ASC​. What tech related activities are you up to now?

A​C​. I co-founded a collective called The Young Hackers with my fellow All Star, Mamadou. We plan hackathons for other high schoolers. Since our inception, we have had four very successful hackathons and over 400 happy hackers in attendance. Most of our fellow All Stars have been involved one way or another as well. I’m also taking AP Computer Science at my school, but it’s been a breeze for me. So I enjoy helping my classmates with their assignments so they too can learn the joy of hacking.

​ASC​. How did ASC help you find or create your current opportunities?

A​C​. All Star Code introduced me to hackathons, and gave me the drive and the team to start The Young Hackers. The algorithmic thinking I developed at the Summer Intensive made my AP Computer Science curriculum really simple to understand. I can break down complex problems into simpler ones and solve those quickly, ending up with an effective solution. All Star Code ignited a fire in me, which has inspired me to create projects outside of school, and keep that joy alive.

World of Coding 2

This past Saturday, February 28th, All Star Code held a World of Coding (WoC II) workshop at Microsoft’s Times Square office. The day kicked off with a warm welcome from ASC’s Founder & Executive Director, Christina Lewis Halpern, and a great introduction into the Microsoft Youthspark program from Microsoft’s Operations & Community Manager, Antuan Santana. The ASC team & volunteers shared a few words about their roles and favorite technology, and then gave the floor to the first of four instructors for the day.

Our first instructor, Taofeek Rabiu, Senior Director of Engineering at Jibe Inc, spoke with enthusiasm about the power of having a “Hacking Mentality”, with several unique anecdotes about our perceptions of hackers. The students then broke into groups and selected themes for their own startups out of a hat. For example, one of the groups selected a ‘Health & Exercise’ theme and designed an app called MotivatorX that helps users with clean eating and workout tips.

Next up, Elissa Weinzimmer, Founder of Voice Body Connection, worked with the students on vocal, pitching and presentation skills in her Power of Self-Presentation module. With her suggestions and tips in mind, it was incredible to see the difference this module made in the quality of student pitches.

Following the short pitches, Max Weinbrown, Software Engineer at App Nexus, led a great session called The Power of Coding + Design, during which the students built twitter bots that showcased their startups.

Closing the day with great energy was Computer Science Instructor Sean Stern’s module, The Power of Robotics. During this final part of the workshop, students learned, using pre-installed computer software, how to program a robotic car to follow a specific list of commands, ultimately drawing the students’ first business logo.

With closing remarks and information about our Summer Intensive in tow, the students left Microsoft on high, excited about their continued pursuit of knowledge and experience in computer science. Check out some photos from the day and the social media recap of the workshop below.

Catalyst SAT Bootcamp

On March 7th and 8th, All Star Code will team up with Catalyst Prep and AlleyNYC to present the Catalyst SAT Bootcamp. This unique workshop will last 4 hours each day, and will provide students with essential prep for their upcoming test. The Catalyst SAT Bootcamp is the only workshop designed by instructors who take the actual SAT every time the test is offered, and have earned multiple perfect scores as a result. The Catalyst SAT Bootcamp is not a “mock” SAT – this one-weekend workshop arms students with go-to strategies for every question they’re guaranteed to face on the test.

The bootcamp will be hosted at AlleyNYC – “The Most Badass Co-working Space on the Planet” – where All Star Code held its first Summer Intensive program last summer. With several All Star Code Alums in attendance, this bootcamp will also be a great opportunity to meet students who can tell you what it’s like to be a part of the ASC ecosystem.

See the below flyer for more details, feel free to reach out to Info@CatalystPrep.com with additional questions, and get pumped for the Catalyst SAT Bootcamp. We look forward to seeing you there!

SAT_Bootcamp_Jan2015_v5

The Year Ahead

February brings a cold snap, but our team is humming to begin our 2015 Summer Intensive recruitment drive. We are thrilled that hundreds of people from parents, teachers, school principals and elected officials are clamoring for their youth to be included in our groundbreaking programming.

Personally, I want to highlight some of our most exciting developments moving into 2015.

We’ve had over 76 young high school boys of color participate in our all-day workshops, which we use to generate awareness and interest in our 6-week Summer Intensive program. Over 60 tech professionals have served as mentors to our boys, helping them deepen their knowledge of coding and the careers in the tech industry. And nearly 40 tech companies, schools and organizations have joined our ecosystem as community partners – ensuring that our students receive industry exposure, training, mentor support, and educational resources.

After exposure to our workshops, mentors, and community partners, over 95% of our boys, when surveyed, stated that our program led them to consider strongly pursuing a tech career path.

Our pilot 2014 Summer Intensive is now a proven success, with an independent research firm confirming that we have increased our students technical skills, entrepreneurial confidence and desire to pursue a career in the technology industry. All 100% of our graduates last summer are now planning to pursue a tech-related career post-program, and 95% are now strongly considering a career in computer science. We feel these results are extraordinary, and we’re excited to share our story with the world as we expand in 2015.

Based on these successes, we are now investing significant time and resources into formalizing our Intensive curriculum. Our Intensive is a scalable program, but curriculum investment is required to make it replicable.

We have great plans for the Intensive this year. By the end of 2015, we plan to have graduated at least 60 students through our Intensive program. For context, only 68 African American students passed the AP Computer Science exam in New York State last year, with a passing rate of 33.8%. Our work can make meaningful change in our space.

Most excitingly, our first class of All Stars is doing extremely well. Our students have attended numerous coding events on their own, including Penn Apps, a monthly event at Spotify, and My Brother’s Keeper Hackathon in Philadelphia. One of our students won a $1,500 prize at a Hackathon organized by our community partner Digital Undivided. They are also very actively participating in a shared Facebook group.

Two of our students have even created their own organization, the Young Hackers. Austin and Mamadou, both 16, met during our Intensive and decided to organize a Meetup for high school students. With support from our instructors and team, they ran a hugely successful hackathon for 100 students hosted by our site sponsor, Alley NYC. Six months later, the Young Hackers have partnered with numerous coding education programs, including our curriculum partner, Flatiron School, to run events.

Giving motivated but disconnected students the skills, network and exposure to integrate into the technology sector is at the crux of our programming. And we are gratified to see our unique curriculum and approach bearing fruit so soon.

On the other hand, several of our students have not been able to participate in some fantastic opportunities because they could not afford the travel costs to the event. We have many more good stories to share as our alumni take flight, but we are also mindful that our program must be a multi-year commitment. To truly be an ecosystem of access, we must secure new funding so that we can continue to support our All Stars. Soon, they’ll be able to find employment at technology companies, and start supporting the next generation of All Stars in return.

Christina

PS. On the personal front, my husband and I welcomed our baby daughter Sasha to the world in November. She is providing joy to us and a lot of amusement to her older brother. Bringing forth a new life to the world grounds me and reminds me that while we should remember and learn from the past our eyes must stay on the future, because that is where our potential lies.

© Natalie Keyssar 2013 for All Star Code. All rights reserved.

My Incredible Ride With All Star Code

As many of you know, these are my final days as Operations & Program Coordinator for All Star Code. Admittedly, it is bittersweet. On the one hand, I am excited for a new opportunity that lies ahead. And on the other, I’ll be leaving behind an organization whose mission is very close to me.
 
Prior to ASC, C++ was just an awkward letter grade for me between a C+ and a B-. Aside from hipping me to the fact that C++ was a powerful programming language, my time at ASC proved incredibly encouraging. ASC showed me that despite the countless news broadcasts that suggest otherwise, there are a world of folks who believe that Our Boys Matter. These supporters are also willing to put their money, time and efforts behind ASC to prove this fact.
 
That alone was enough to get me out of bed and into the office every morning.
 
I’ve met hundreds of students in the past year while raising awareness about All Star Code. This past July, my focus narrowed down to a select 20 who were accepted to our inaugural Summer Intensive.
 
The ASC team is, by and large, a well-prepared bunch. But nothing could have prepared us for the amount of vigor and life the inaugural Summer Intensive class brought to All Star Code. These young men, known as ASC 1, embody what All Star Code is all about: A deep passion for computer science, grit, wellness and FUN. I thank ASC1 for making our first Summer Intensive a blast and for continuing to stay connected with us.
 
ASC1 – Don’t tell the team this, but I have the most fun job of them all. I’m not even sure they’d disagree. I not only get to interface with great young minds like your own, but I get to be around the incredible individuals who make up the ASC team. These are people who couldn’t be more different, yet are joined by a belief that our young men of color deserve just as much access to the tech industry as anyone else.
 
If you are a parent or educator thinking about connecting with All Star Code, rest assured that your child or student are in the best of hands.
 
I couldn’t be more grateful to all who have made ASC what it is today. In such a short time, we’ve been able to garner a great amount of support. I know it will only continue.
 
Thank you for an incredible ride.
 
David
 

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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

All Star Code’s 10 Reasons To Be Thankful

This Thanksgiving season, the All Star Code Team feels truly thankful for what we’ve been able to accomplish – for ourselves as an organization, and for our high school boys of color – since the program began in March 2013. So much has happened – to us, to our students, to our ecosystem and the tech space in general – over the last year. Below, I give my top ten reasons that we at All Star Code are giving thanks this year.

1. For All Star Code’s Organizational Growth. Despite a federal backlog in 501(c)(3) approvals, All Star Code acquired its “nonprofit” status in less than a year. A truly record achievement. Moreover, the organization has grown from a lone visionary founder, Christina Lewis Halpern, to a core team of 8 people – 5 full-time and 3 part-time members. Christina. Michael. Robert. David. Amanda. Linda. Vilasinee. And, finally, our second Christina: Licata. We’re more like family than fellow staff. And we’re thankful for that.

2.For Our Innovative Workshops and Summer Intensive. As a mission-driven family, our team will have conducted five introductory workshops for 110 students (Design a Startup in a Day and The World of Coding) by the end of 2014. Whereas 50 students applied to attend last year’s Design a Startup in a Day workshops, over 140 have applied this year. The demand is growing.

Our inaugural Summer Intensive Program was a phenomenal success – based on voluminous feedback received from students, parents, speakers, mentors, partnering tech companies, and foundation supporters. Every member of our ecosystem who witnessed our initial cohort of 20 All Stars as they learned to code, white board, and pitch business ideas at our AlleyNYC location issued the same refrains:

“Where did you find such bright, talented and driven young men?”

”Why can’t they be college graduates already?”

And my favorite:

“ I wish this program had existed for me when I was a teenager in high school.”

Truth be told, I have often remarked this to myself. So, for the opportunity to create a genuine pathway to career success for a new generation of techies of color, we are grateful. This represents progress.

3. For Our Trailblazing Students. And what of those initial 20 students, our first group of alumni, who Team All Star Code selected with so much care, hope and faith? What have they been up to since completing the Summer Intensive? To be honest, a few have already surpassed our expectations. For example:

  • Several alumni, led by Mamodou Diallo and Austin Carvey, have created a coding club called “Young Hackers.” This entrepreneurial group has organized 2 successful Hackathons (a 3rd is scheduled for Dec 6th) for nearly 200 high school participants. The Young Hackers acquired their own event sponsorships from tech companies like Google, Twilio, AlleyNYC, Mainstreet, Major League Hacking, Whisk, and DigitalOcean. They show no signs of slowing down. And they are mostly high school juniors.
  • ASC alumnus Anthony Box immediately for a yearlong education exchange program in China. He took his cello and an All Star Code laptop – to continue coding. Anthony has since been featured by CNN as an American teen who is helping bridge the cultural gap between US-China relations.
  • ASC alumnus Devon Howell, and his team, won 1st prize at DigitalUndivided’s prestigious Focus100 Hackathon this past October.
  • Several alumni have obtained internship at tech startups in NYC. But all of our boys have served as “All Star Code Champions” at their home schools.

To say that we are proud, that we choose wisely, is an understatement. Boys in the recent Summer Intensive cohort felt they, as well, had chosen wisely in attending the program. They all expressed sentiments similar to those captured by Luis Dominguez, now a senior at Philips Exeter Academy.

Thank you so much for this summer. I know that there was some debate on my coming here, due to my experience. But I feel like I got a lot out of the program. Even though I’ve done things like AP Comp Sci, I feel like I had never done as much with technology. In an analogous way, it was like I was seeing the world in black and white before. I needed All Star Code to provide the color that I was missing

ASC really does expand your world-view. I often stayed after the program to talk with the co-facilitators and it just fueled my passion to learn more. It just gave me that much more motivation. I feel like I would have been much more reluctant to do something in tech in the future if I hadn’t done All Star Code.

ASC really brightens your opportunities…just overall. The entire way it’s structured. I’m really grateful for this program.

In short, we are thankful for choosing students who acknowledge the support we’ve given them, even as they forge ahead.

4. For Living the Mission. Student gratitude, expressed by both our alumni’s words and their post-program actions, tells All Star Code that we are on to something. It tells us, very clearly, that we are inspiring young men of color to become active creators, innovators and leaders within the tech ecosystem. We are showing them how to build communities and supportive peer groups, how to network, and how to participate in the tech space. We have given them license, and a roadmap, to be creative. And we are teaching them, conversely, to forego remaining passive consumers of tech products and services. Our extensive program evaluation, conducted by WestEd’s STEM Group (San Francisco) bears out this reality. WestEd’s high-level findings revealed that, by program’s end:

  • 100% of our boys self-identified as “hackers.”
  • 95% of them were strongly considering a career in computer science.
  • 85% of our boys ranked computer science as their likely major in college.
  • The skill our All Star Coders ranked as most desirable: algorithmic thinking.
  • 100% of our alumni were confident that they could solve problems – economic, social, political, or technical – using a computer.

These data points, among other findings in the report, are very heartening. It shows that “living the mission” for just one summer produced significant changes in student mindset toward coding, computer science and career options. We are thankful for WestEd’s meticulous and discerning evaluation of our program and its outcomes. It shows us that we’re on the right path.

5. For Silicon Valley’s Courageous Admission. This past summer, Silicon Valley’s most prominent tech firms released figures on the racial and ethnic makeup of their companies. Google was the first, revealing that out of its 46,000 employees, just 2 percent – and 1 percent of its technology workforce – are black. Next was Yahoo’s admission: of 12,300 employees, 1 percent of its tech workforce is black. Of Facebook’s workforce: 1 percent. Apple’s workforce is 7 percent black, given the number of black “geniuses” working at their 425 retail locations. Finally, only 1 percent of Twitter’s tech workforce, and 2 percent of its overall workforce, is African-American. These were courageous admissions by the leaders of the tech industry. We applaud them for their bravery, and for their subsequent commitment to bring issues of workforce diversity and inclusion front-and-center.

Christina Lewis Halpern recognized this as a central economic issue of our time. She founded All Star Code because of it. Our team built All Star Code to address this at the high school level. So, we are thankful for Silicon Valley’s recognition of the very real need for programs like All Star Code.

6. For The Current Champions of Tech Education & Inclusion. Team All Star Code gains strength and mission clarity from its partners in the tech inclusion ecosystem. We appreciate the work they do in creating energy and space for our movement. There are “champions of inclusion: at pioneering organizations: Code2040’s Laura Weidman Powers, Digital Undivided’s Kathryn Finney, Black Girls Code’s Kimberly Bryant, and Van Jones’ YesWeCode. And the movement has grown into a flourishing ecosystem here in New York City. To name just a few of our allies: GirlsWhoCode, ScriptEd, MOUSE, CampInteractive, The Flatiron School, Code Now, Blacks in Tech, ELiTE Education, Platform.org, Silicon Harlem, Bronx Startup Box, Open Society’s Black Male Achievement Project, and Teals. We are thankful for this thriving ecosystem of social impact organizations.

7. For the Tech Industry’s Recent Trend Towards Inclusion. Recognizing the need for more concrete action, Marc Andreesen donated $500,000 to three non-profits working on the front lines to bring more diversity to the high-tech industry. In October 2014, Andreesen and his wife apportioned half a million dollars to Code2040, GirlsWhoCode, and Hack the Hood. The grants send a strong signal about the growing momentum in Silicon Valley to close the gender and racial gap in the high-tech industry. And as Andreesen noted in a recent spate of articles, “Tech is not yet inclusive enough. There is no question that there is a huge opportunity to make it more inclusive and open it up to traditionally underrepresented groups, such as women and underrepresented minorities.”

In a recent article in New York magazine, Andreesen further defines the obstacles as “education”, “access” and “networking.” Around the same time, Google donated $190,000 to Black Girls Code to address the issues of underrepresentation. These gifts represent a growing trend among the heavyweights of the tech industry to invest in diversifying their future talent pools by embracing nonprofits like ours that focus on tech education, workforce development and inclusion. All Star Code is thankful for this trend.

8. For Fast Company’s Spotlight on Diversity Pioneers. Fast Company has shone a spotlight on the pioneering leaders of organizations like All Star Code, Black Girls Code, Code2040 and GirlsWhoCode. But the magazine’s recent piece on Tristan Walker raised the profile of diversity issues in the technology space. The piece detailed the “Silicon Valley success story” that is Tristan Walker. It serves him up as a genuine role model for other aspiring tech entrepreneurs of color, while exploring the many challenges still faced by successful black techies, like Tristan, in an industry currently dominated by White and Asian males. Tristan’s rather complex story confirms the importance of All Star Code’s work in building student’s education in computer science, professional networks and system know-how.

A companion article in the same edition of Fast Company, on a “roundtable discussion of other African-American tech leaders,” revealed the importance of a strong and supportive professional peer group. This network of friends and colleagues provide our All Star Coders with examples of how to work and play together professionally – while keeping your focus on increasing our representation among leaders in the tech world. We are thankful for this group’s roadmaps to pioneering entrepreneurship and peer network building. We see what needs to be done, and how all Star Code can help these opportunities grow.

9. For the Sobering Lessons of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and (Many, Many) Others. These tragedies remind us that the killings of our young black males – by other black males, and by police officers with greater frequency – is a social epidemic that calls for collective, concerted and sustained intervention. President Obama’s major initiative, My Brother’s Keeper, attempts to address the overall plight of young black males in this country. And within this initiative, organizations like All Star Code have been able to gain greater exposure and traction. We find ourselves in a greater position to work with organizations and institutions, at every political level, to shape the public policy surrounding education and workforce development for our young men of color. It takes a community to raise a black male child. And All Star Code has quickly become a recognized member of that community. And second, the wrongful deaths of these young boys has increased the desire of each team member to build and expand All Star Code’s programs nationally. We want to expose as many boys of color as possible to All Star Code’s programming and continued support throughout the high school years. We want to build the kind of “ecosystem of education and access” that will produce young men of color who become household names being tech pioneer and leaders instead.

10. For You (Yes, You!). Last, but not least, we are thankful for your unwavering support. Be you an individual, organization or tech company. You have been an important part of our ecosystem thus far. Some of you have given advice, guidance, and resources to get All Star Code off the ground two years ago. Others have since become board members, formal advisors, mentors, and general program ambassadors. Still others have donated funds to support our continued work and growth. And many of you have given us access to your network of colleagues who are equally committed to social impact work like ours. As importantly, many organizations have given All Star Code financial resources, event space, tech staff support, pro bono services and other types of support. We chose to name none of you specifically in order, ironically, to thank all of you equally.

Because of your unwavering support, we have completed a successful “proof of concept” year and move forward to greater success. We leave behind a year that leaves us thankful for many things. Most especially…our organizational growth…our innovative workshops and summer intensive…our trailblazing students…our living the mission…Silicon Valley’s courageous admissions…the current champions of tech education & inclusion…the tech industry’s recent trend towards inclusion…Fast Company’s spotlight on diversity pioneers…the galvanizing lessons of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and many others…and You.

Happy Thanksgiving, All Star Code Tribe!

Robert Bonner

Robert

Design A Startup In A Day Takes Over Google!

DESIGN A STARTUP IN A DAY TAKES OVER GOOGLE!

On Saturday, November 1st, we held our first Design a Startup in a Day workshop of the season at Google. After some enthusiastic icebreakers and random selection of group CEOs, the students jumped right in to designing their own music-themed startups.

With intensive group discussion, mentor panels, and wireframing under their belts, the students ended the day presenting some of the apps they had created to their families and mentors. The judges and audience alike were impressed by the students’ creativity and attention to detail.

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After the workshop, more than 75% of the participants shared that they were satisfied with the overall Design a Start Up in a Day event.

After the workshop, more than 75% of the participants shared that they are interested in applying to attend All Star Code’s 2015 six-week Summer Intensive.

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One student shared: “My favorite part of today’s program was how much teamwork was put into the presentations.”

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For more photos from the workshop, visit the gallery page on our website HERE.

We look forward to our second Design a Startup in a Day workshop of the season, held at General Assembly onDecember 13th.

UPDATE: THE YOUNG HACKERS

The Young Hackers, an organization started by two of our All Star Code alumni (Mamadou Diallo and Austin Carvey), have kept busy and are continuing their outreach and engagement in the tech space. Most recently, they partnered with Monthly Music Hackathon and held an event at Spotify on November 1st. Some of their ongoing projects include: helping StudentRND organize CodeDayNYC and helping to organize a Local Hack Day event with Major League Hacking for December. We are proud of what they have accomplished thus far and look forward to providing continuous support and hearing further updates about their work.

PRESS

“The New York woman inspiring young men from minority backgrounds to code.” Check out a brand new feature on Christina and All Star Code at Nature.com.

BLOG

Have you checked out the new All Star Code blog? This week’s entry, The All Star Code Impact, comes from our Director of Marketing & Events, Michael Schwartz.

Michael Schwartz

OUR FAMILY IS GROWING!

Meet our new Development Manager, Christina Licata!

Christina Licata

Christina developed a passion for connecting people with nonprofits while working and volunteering at various educational organizations in NYC. Taking her work from the ESL classroom to the front lines of philanthropy, Christina has raised awareness and financial support for educational and athletic causes for over six years. After transplanting to Brooklyn from Tempe, Arizona, Christina co-founded the New York Lady Magpies Australian football team and currently serves as the head coach. She is so excited to be joining the team at All Star Code.

In other news, congratulations to our founder Christina Lewis Halpern and her husband Dan Halpern on the birth of their daughter, Sasha! Everyone is happy and healthy.

JOIN OUR MISSION!

We want to give a shout out to the following organizations who have supported our Summer Intensive student’s continued engagement with technology:

Ruby On Rails, One Month Swift, Treehouse, MakeGamesWithUs, Cracking The Coding Interview, Dev Bootcamp, Codiqa, and Twilio.

The All Star Code Impact

In September of last year, a chance meeting with Christina Lewis Halpern changed my life. Christina was just about to publicly launch All Star Code.  She was looking for someone to help run her new non-profit’s first event, to be held at Spotify’s headquarters a week later. In talking with her, I felt inspired by her passion, chutzpah, and big picture thinking. So, I dove in.

We met every day that week leading up to the event. And upon successfully wrapping All Star Code’s first workshop, she casually said to me with a smile, “You’re coming back Monday, right?”

I wasn’t lying about the chutzpah.

Of course I came back the following Monday. And here I am now – 4 workshops, 2 fundraisers, 1 benefit, 6 Summer Intensive weeks and 14 months of Mondays later.

In just one year, All Star Code has worked with more than 100 students from 8 different states and 56 different schools. We’ve recruited top industry professionals as teachers and mentors, and built a program that is so unique, so impactful, and so timely that I constantly find myself talking about the kinds of future leaders our All Stars are destined to become.

As the Director of Marketing and Events, I am highly attuned to the narratives that weave in and out of All Star Code. I often tell friends stories about the All Star student who shadowed me when I photographed a website building workshop. He then built an incredible website not only to showcase his own photography, but to get hired out as an event photographer himself. Or I speak of the two All Stars who created an interactive game that was such a hit at our Summer Benefit in July that the head of a museum invited them to showcase it at HIS event. More recently, I tell everyone about the All Star who came into the Summer Intensive with no prior coding experience, only to build a company with his cohorts that hosted a better-attended hackathon than our own. Christina’s chutzpah is clearly contagious.

Christina often tells anyone involved with All Star Code to “live the mission.” For me, that includes helping build an ecosystem of education and access for our All Stars, through both professional and personal resources.

When we were looking at different tech companies to host field trips for the Summer Intensive, I called my brother’s girlfriend, who works at LinkedIn.  I asked her to help me plan a day-long workshop that included student pitch sessions, profile building, and a hike to the top of the Empire State Building (where LinkedIn’s New York offices are headquartered). When we hosted a fundraiser in my hometown of San Francisco, I called upon a high school friend and winery owner to donate cases of wine to the event. When we needed assistant event managers at the Summer Benefit, I called upon three colleagues who had assisted me previously on other non-profit events. And when one of their boyfriends, a computer programmer, found out about her involvement with All Star Code, he rang me up the next day with a mixture of excitement and jealousy and asked how he too could get involved. And so he became a mentor at our last Design A Startup In A Day workshop hosted by Google. I live the mission by recruiting talent and building out our ecosystem because I believe in these boys and their potential to change the world.

Our ecosystem is expanding every day. If you are reading this now, then you are already a part of it. So I ask you, how will YOU live the mission? Will you volunteer or mentor at a workshop? Will you co-host a fundraiser? Or will you do something as easy as share our newsworthy updates on social media? All such efforts carry our movement forward.  We are all committed to changing the lives of our All Stars. What may surprise you is that because of your involvement with All Star Code, your life could very easily change as well.

Michael Schwartz & All Star Coders at Google Workshop