White House #CS4All Initiative Features All Star Code



We live in interesting times. Throughout our nation and the globe, individuals are coming together demanding change, opportunity, and access in order to find sustainable, rewarding careers in the 21st century.

All Star Code is meeting that need by fostering the entrepreneurial talents of one of our most vulnerable and overlooked populations, Black and Latino boys. ASC empowers young men with the skills, networks, and mindsets they need to create new futures through technology. We work towards 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.

After three years of operation, ASC students have matriculated at top colleges across the nation, from NYU to Hampton to Stanford; founded learn-to-code organizations, and launched their own web development businesses. 100% of our college-aged alums go to college and two-thirds to top universities.

I am proud to share that today All Star Code has committed to continuing to double the size of our Summer Intensive each year. We have announced a target to deliver coding, technology, and entrepreneurship skills through our Summer Intensive to 1,000 students by 2020, as part of the White House’s “Computer Science for All” initiative. (See the Fact Sheet.)

This growth would not be possible without the leadership of the many funders, educators, social entrepreneurs and policymakers who care about empowering our youth with the skills, networks and mindsets needed to thrive in the innovation economy. Thank you all of the individuals, companies, and other funders for your sustaining support.

Over the coming months, we are speaking with partners to discuss this growth. Please take a moment to think about an individual, company, organization or city that is invested empowering our youth and send them our way.

Second, we will be hiring for a number of full-time positions. Please check our website and follow us on Twitter to see the new positions as they become available. All inquiries can be sent to jobs@allstarcode.org.

As you may know, we have called off our Executive Director search and I feel so privileged and excited to continue to lead the organization into the next chapter.


All Star Code Pledges to Deliver Technology & Entrepreneurship Training to 1,000 Students by 2020 as Part of the White House’s “Computer Science for All” Initiative

New York, NY – August 17, 2016 – All Star Code (ASC), a non-profit organization that prepares diverse young men with skills to obtain careers in technology, will announce its commitment to deliver training to 1,000 students by 2020 in coding, technology and career-focused skills as part of the Obama Administration’s “Computer Science for All” initiative.

Computer Science for All, designed to empower kindergarten- through high school-aged students with the resources to learn the computational thinking skills needed to become leaders in the digital economy, is closely aligned with All Star Code’s mission to prepare young men of color for fulltime employment in the technology industry by providing mentorship, industry exposure, and intensive training in computer science.

Since its founding in 2013, All Star Code has worked to close the racial gap in entrepreneurship through hosting educational technology events, hackathons, and an annual Summer Intensive. The six-week summer program provides training in coding languages, such as Python, JavaScript and HTML, to African-American and Latino male sophomores and juniors in High School, through a curriculum geared toward developing direct motivation, resilience and other psychological traits linked to success in all phases of life.

To date, All Star Code has educated more than 700 students. Already the program has proven to foster a lasting impact, with 70 percent of All Star Code’s Summer Intensive graduates going on to pursue college degrees in STEM fields.

All Star Code’s corporate collaborations and sponsorships with some of the world’s top technology companies, including AT&T, Google, and Goldman Sachs, are another sign of the program’s success. The generous contributions of AT&T and Goldman Sachs, and access to on-site resources and speakers from tech companies like LinkedIn and Uber, have helped secure valuable learning opportunities for ASC’s students.

Over its first three years, All Star Code’s applications and enrollment have increased by 235 percent and 300 percent, respectively. In order to reach its goal of doubling enrollment in the Summer Intensive by 2020, All Star Code plans to expand from New York into the Bay Area and other major cities. In addition, All Star Code aims to invest in its student’s continued success by providing long-term alumni services and starting a “train the trainer” model collaborating with related organizations and community groups to inspire all students to dare greatly, celebrate failure and tell their story through coding.

“We are heartened by President Obama’s investment in computer science and STEM learning, which we believe are not only critical skills in today’s workplace, but also an ideal medium for students to build the life-long characteristics of perseverance, curiosity and confidence needed for future success in business and life,” said Christina Lewis Halpern, founder and Executive Director of All Star Code. “In collaboration with Computer Science for All, we look forward to continuing to grow our program, and joining the national conversation about how to ensure minority males have an equal opportunity and, ultimately, fair representation in the tech industry.”

In addition to the support of key corporate partners, the federal government’s ability to promote and raise awareness of technology-focused programs like All Star Code will be instrumental to ASC’s ability to sustain its growth. Joining Computer Science for All helps expand All Star Code’s network to reach not only a greater number of potential students, but also influential members of the tech and government communities and new corporate partners.

About All Star Code
All Star Code empowers young men with the skills, networks, and mindsets they need to create new futures through technology. We work towards 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. We are fostering entrepreneurial talent.

Media Contact
Christina Licata, licata@alstarcode.org

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.

A New Beginning

11188431_1444740529170958_7471115465023070586_nMy experience with All Star Code has been full of firsts and opportunities for growth. From leading recruitment efforts, to managing the Summer Intensive and rolling out ASCs newest programming, The Alumni Accelerator, ASC has made a deep impression on me both personally and professionally.

I am so appreciative to have worked with this team. However, it is time to transition to other opportunities.
The future of each All Star is so full of potential! In these students, I see critical thinkers and leaders, creators of awesomeness, college graduates, entrepreneurs and future CEOs. Some of my favorite memories were created during Summer Intensive company visits, specifically Yelp and Goldman Sachs. The All Stars were unafraid to ask questions, get business cards and just have fun. I am so grateful to have worked with such talented, funny and determined students. In me, they have an eternal cheerleader.

I won’t consider this a good bye, rather a see you later. I will continue working in the educational space and look forward to the next challenge! If you’d like to stay in touch, feel free to contact me at alessandra.carter@gmail.com.

With Appreciation,

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An Exciting New Chapter

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Since the founding of All Star Code three years ago, we have exposed over 500 high school students to careers in computing in New York City and pioneered a radical idea: that young men of color are an untapped talent pool that deserves investment. With our community partners and widespread civic support, we have demonstrated a compelling need for high-quality tech entrepreneurship education for young men, but I know that we can grow faster and capitalize on our unique model in the next three years.

To realize our full potential, I believe we need to hire a new Executive Director. Personally, it is a tremendous privilege and honor to have grown All Star Code to the point where we are able to hire a person with the skillset to significantly strengthen and grow our organization. I am positive this transition is a byproduct of our success and that the right individual will enable us to scale with quality and sustainability and provide an even bigger platform to advocate for equal access to economic opportunity.

I remain committed to helping ASC achieve its goals as its Founder and Board Chair and will be working very closely with the Executive Director. Please see below for details on both roles.

In the months ahead I will be focused on leading the search for the new Executive Director. Please let me know if you have any questions or candidate suggestions. You can also direct recommendations and questions to Rebecca Meyer at On-Ramps, our search firm partner.

My Best,

Christina Lewis Halpern

Highlights of Executive Director role (Full job description):

  • Craft a compelling vision for All Star Code’s impact at scale
  • Oversee program development, day-to-day operations, and annual budget process
  • Build, coach, and manage a high-performing team
  • Foster and enhance ASC’s entrepreneurial, positive, and diverse culture
  • Act as primary liaison to the Board of Directors and participate on the Executive Committee
  • Work with Founder/Board Chair to recruit and secure Board and Advisory Board Members
  • Serve as the external face of ASC
  • Develop and cultivate a deep and thriving community of major donors and 
  • Responsible for the ultimate success of ASC

  • Harvard

    Meet Alberto Tornes, All Star Code’s New Community Manager!

    1798160_10152410504568342_8551836749508346144_nThe United States of America is a country of opportunity. As an immigrant I can attest to the veracity of this claim. Those who have the drive to work hard, those who are willing to fail and turn their failures into learning opportunities, and those who work insatiably to achieve their goals are, without a doubt, destined for success. But opportunity does not come easily. Many times it is not clear enough. Sometimes it is up to socially conscious people and organizations to break down the barriers that hinder opportunity from being shared equally.

    Joining All Star Code is an opportunity to work tirelessly to diversify America’s fastest growing industry: the technology sector. With blacks and Latinos representing a combined 9% of tech employees, and with over 1.4 million new technology-related jobs being predicted by 2020, it is imperative that the tech industry resembles a bit more what this country is: a nation that has historically embraced diversity and one that thrives from multiple cultural perspectives.

    As All Star Code’s new Community Manager, I will be spearheading our newest program: the Alumni Accelerator. This recently launched program was designed in order to continue creating opportunities for our boys to get more immersed within the technology industry. I will be managing our existing relationships with tech companies and forging new ones to provide our boys with meaningful experiential learning and mentorship opportunities.

    Prior to joining All Star Code, I worked at AID FOR AIDS International, a New York City-based nonprofit, developing and executing fundraising and marketing campaigns. This experience allowed me to better understand the world of social innovation and the need to develop programs and initiatives with a social impact focus. As a social entrepreneur, I also co-founded StartUp Cuba, an initiative created with the mission of fostering an ever-more dynamic culture of entrepreneurship in Cuba by empowering a new generation of socially minded entrepreneurs.

    I have arrived at All Star Code captivated by our mission and fascinated by the knowledge and entrepreneurial grit that our boys exhibit. I am honored to work alongside a remarkable group of professionals that wake up every day to break down barriers and challenge the status quo. I look forward to working relentlessly on your behalf, continuing to level the playing field for minority groups within the tech sector.

    If you wish to connect and learn more about me, feel free to reach out at alberto@allstarcode.org and/or @artornes.

    Farewell from Managing Director Robert Bonner

    Dear All Star Code Friends, Family and Alumni,

    Happy September!

    As the new school year begins, many new experiences await our alumni. Some are finally off to college! We wish these students much success, and deserved confidence, as they make this major life transition. The new crop of 2015 Summer Intensive alumni are returning to their high schools genuinely transformed from a one-of-a-kind summer experience. Judging from updates on their Facebook group, they are looking forward to building their tech skills through ASC’s Accelerator Program. I wish each of these young men continued success as they embark on this new leg of their exciting journey!

    I also want to give you, members of our tech-education ecosystem, an update on something that’s been developing for me at All Star Code. Now that our 2nd Summer Intensive has ended so successfully, All Star Code is in a better position than ever to grow in New York City – and to scale beyond.

    Having helped build the foundations of All Star Code, I am transitioning out of my role as Managing Director. I share this news with an obvious mix of sadness and excitement. There is never an opportune time to leave a train moving as fast as All Star Code. But change becomes more difficult once the organization begins accelerating again in the new school year.

    I have helped establish the organization’s very foundations and presence in the tech education space. Indeed, these years of hard work have been nothing short of phenomenal! All Star Code now has many key elements in place — a solid core team, a unique program and curriculum, a financial structure, a budget, 501(c)(3) status, a strategic plan, nearly 60 alumni and a one-of-a-kind reputation. Students, parents, and schools love All Star Code. And rightly so! Moreover, ASC also enjoys an ecosystem of professional mentors, tech partnerships and sponsorships that are truly enviable. I came on board to help set up all of this. I succeeded, and am proud of these accomplishments.

    Now that these things are in place, I am moving on to other opportunities and challenges. Christina and the (growing) team will nimbly handle the impending expansion phase! Much love to this growing work on behalf of our boys of color. Their lives truly matter.

    I will be moving on to consulting opportunities within the non-profit and tech education spaces. I want to find ways to leverage all that I have achieved and learned up to this point to continue my service to our young people of color. I will also revive my work as an executive and leadership coach. This is my primary passion: helping others to find their professional pathways and to excel. As you can see, All Star Code’s mission has been an obvious example of this work.

    Please let’s keep in touch. I’d love to keep each of you as a valued member of my professional network, with obvious overlaps to All Star Code’s. But I would most want to keep you as allies and friends.

    And to the students: I am always here as a supportive mentor. If you’ve learned nothing over the past two years, know this. So don’t hesitate to reach out at bonnersuter@gmail.com!

    Best wishes for everyone’s continued success!



    Announcing Our 2014 Annual Report

    IMG_1592Nearly 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.

    Meet Our New Program Manager, Alessandra Carter!

    A Carter HeadshotAs the newest member of the team, I am both eager to connect with the ASC community and extremely proud to support the academic and social growth of our scholars. I use the word proud because I understand the significance of contributing to an ecosystem of support for our boys. As reported by the Schott Foundation, the 2012-2013 school year data indicates a national graduation rate of just 59% for Black males and 65% for Latino males, as compared to 80% for White males. Our program is working to close the educational gap between boys of color and their counterparts, and I’m so excited to be a part of it!

    Prior joining to All Star Code, I managed student advocacy and academic initiatives within Harlem Children’s Zone. As the founding manager of the student advocacy program, my team was responsible for building relationships with teachers and families in order to better support student’s needs. This meant expanding my understanding of social work and special education services here in New York City. I learned so much and I truly enjoyed leading a team that advocated for students and parents of color. In addition to the advocacy program, I collaborated with the high school program manager to infuse diversity awareness and college planning activities into our after school program.

    Joining All Star Code is a natural progression in my career and I look forward to supporting many initiatives. Without a doubt, my favorite aspect of this role is ASC recruitment. I love visiting different schools to speak with youth! Since February, I’ve co-led recruitment efforts in Brownsville Brooklyn, Harlem, the Bronx and Manhattan. During the visits, I share information about ASC, but I also take in the school culture, learn about student interests, and simply have fun.

    Moving forward, I look forward to running a great Summer Intensive, creating more opportunities for ASC alumni, and cultivating partnerships with mission-aligned organizations. This year, our Summer Intensive will double in size. We are also implementing leadership aspects and inviting our ASC alum to work as Summer Fellows. There just might be some other cool stuff, but I’ll keep that a secret for now!

    Have questions? Want to know more about me? Contact me at alessandra@allstarcode.org.

    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.

    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.


    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.