Nearly two years ago, fourteen-year-old Mamadou Diallo had a great idea. After learning some rudimentary coding at school, Mamadou wanted some work experience at a tech company to further his skills and knowledge. Being a motivated self-starter, Mamadou, who was raised in Guinea, the seventh of nine children, sought help by posting in the New York Tech Meetup, a free-wheeling online forum for thousands of tech professionals.
“My name is Mamadou Diallo and I am 14 years old and in the 10th grade. All I’m asking is for someone to let me volunteer or help out at a start up or company. I don’t want to receive any pay.”
Mamadou received some advice, most of it intangible, and all of it ultimately unhelpful.
Mamadou failed to get the internship offer he was seeking. Yet, as we teach our students, we celebrate his failure because it led to opportunity. A few months later, I spotted his email and recruited him to attend All Star Code’s Fall 2013 launch event at Spotify.
Today, not only is sixteen-year old Mamadou armed with an ASC-provided laptop, but he is one bad-ass coder too. He builds websites. He is paid $10 an hour to teach coding to middle school students. And he is a winner of the 2015 Princeton Prize for race relations for his work co-founding The Young Hackers, a student-run organization incubated by ASC that fosters a new generation of programmers. I am tremendously proud of Mamadou, and I thank our entire staff for supporting his and his fellow students’ learning and growth.
Despite his hard work and tireless dedication, Mamadou would have experienced much frustration breaking into the tech industry without the help of All Star Code. We accelerated his growth. We fostered his relationship with his teammates. And to bring it full circle, he is now one of All Star Code’s top recruiters, bringing friends of his to our offices to shake our hands and fill out applications.
In our first year of operation, I am thrilled to share that All Star Code successfully hit all its intended milestones. In two years, we have evolved from an unproven and radical idea with a lone founder into a recognized leader in the tech inclusion and economic justice movement with a core team of six.
We remain early stage, but demand for our program is strong. We received a combined 350+ applications for our unique coding and tech entrepreneurship training courses. Our flagship program, the six-week Summer Intensive, proved an unqualified success with 100% of graduates planning to pursue a tech-related career post-program and 95% now strongly considering a career in computer science. Overall, we have reached over 200 students through our workshops and other tech-related events. That impact is extraordinary in such a short timeframe. It is a testament to all the help we have received from you, our donors and supporters.
The tech industry is growing faster than ever, but tech talent is becoming more difficult to find. There will be over 1.4 million new tech jobs by 2020, and by 2040, Blacks and Latinos will make up 42% of the population. And yet African-Americans currently comprise less than 1% of startup founding teams, a critical catalyst of job growth and wealth creation. All Star Code has significantly raised awareness about the lack of Blacks and Latinos in the tech sector, the need for dedicated programs focused on young men of color, and the importance of teaching not just coding, but a shift in mindset from consumer to “hacker” as well.
We are currently processing what we learned from our pilot year, and moving forward with exciting new programming. In 2015, you will see us expand our footprint in NYC, growing our Summer Intensive alumni to a total of 60, and raising our total student reach to 800 via our one-day workshops and Hackathons. We will also refine our program model and continue to support our graduates over the next several years. Once you are an All Star, you’re with us for life.
Your support has enabled an extraordinary investment in our boys. Please continue to invest in us and spread our message far and wide. We want to reach more untapped talent, and keep our Summer Intensive entirely free. We cannot do this without you.
Take a look at our 2014 Annual Report HERE.