Apple launches inaugural Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers

CUPERTINO, CA—As part of Apple’s ongoing commitment to empower the Black community and dismantle barriers to opportunity, today the company is welcoming leaders and their teams from 13 app companies as the inaugural cohort of Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers. In 2019, Apple held its first-ever Entrepreneur Camp, an immersive tech lab for app-driven companies founded and led by developers from underrepresented backgrounds, with a class of women founders and developers. Program participants have gone on to secure major funding rounds, garner numerous awards and accolades, and significantly expand both their teams and app users worldwide. The program is designed to give developers the opportunity to take their existing app experience to the next level by mastering new technical skills, applying a critical lens to the user experience, and more through hands-on technology labs, one-on-one code-level guidance from Apple experts and engineers, and mentorship, inspiration, and insights from top Apple leaders.

These incredible app creators and business leaders embody the entrepreneurial spirit that runs so deep in the Black community.

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. In addition, Apple is partnering with Harlem Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in New York that invests in diverse founders, to offer guidance and mentorship to the participants. This new partnership is part of Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI), which builds on the company’s work to advance racial equity in education, the economy, and the criminal justice system. These commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of color across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders.“ These incredible app creators and business leaders embody the entrepreneurial spirit that runs so deep in the Black community,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, who leads REJI. “Their work already demonstrates the power of coding to build a better world, and we’re honored to support them as they blaze a trail we know so many more will follow.”

Meet the Developers

David Bosun-Arebuwa, B3am app creator.

B3am

David Bosun-Arebuwa created the B3am app to make gym equipment accessible to beginning fitness enthusiasts who can’t afford personal trainers by using the iPhone camera to identify gym equipment and explain proper usage. Originally from Nigeria and now based in Birmingham, UK, Bosun-Arebuwa has found community with other coders through sharing Swift knowledge.

Adam Taylor, Black app developer.

Black

Adam Taylor, the founder of app development company Langston LLC and solo developer behind Black, built the app to facilitate culturally relevant and multifaceted news for Black people, with stories that speak to the community’s shared experience. A self-taught coder, Taylor has already integrated sophisticated technology into the app to provide relevant and personalized content, and is looking forward to learning more about native iOS frameworks and going deeper on his code with Apple engineers.

Culture Genesis co-founders Cedric J. Rogers and Shaun Newsum.

Bar Exam

Culture Genesis is a venture-backed digital studio remixing technology for urban multicultural audiences, co-founded by experienced engineers and media executives Cedric J. Rogers and Shaun Newsum. The Los Angeles-based team behind the hip hop-centered live trivia game show app TriviaMob will spend their time at Camp working on their newest app called Bar Exam, focused on music.

Abdou Sarr, founder of MODU RESEARCH Corporation and the Film3D app.

Film3D 

MODU RESEARCH Corporation founder Abdou Sarr wants to remove barriers to capturing, creating, and sharing immersive media. The 22-year-old Senegalese-Canadian is a frequent speaker at youth conferences to motivate young people to pursue computer science and entrepreneurship. His Film3D app taps Core ML, ARKit, and Metal to let users shoot 3D photos without special equipment.

FormKey app founder Brent Brinkley.

FormKey

FormKey is a MIDI Controller app from Polyhedra LLC focused on helping create music without being overwhelmed by the complexities of theory and composition. Founder Brent Brinkley, who is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, uses shapes to define notes and colors to define octaves, creating a new language that makes reading music quick and easy.

Health Auto Export creator Lybron Sobers.

Health Auto Export

Lybron Sobers, a native of Barbados now living in Malmö, Sweden, created the Health Auto Export app so patients can easily extract and share specific data across healthcare providers in a secure, privacy-protected way. Sobers is passionate about teaching the basics of programming to kids at coding camps, and mentoring young programmers who are just starting their careers.

Hologarden developer Casey Pollock.

Hologarden

An avid gardener and self-taught Swift developer, Near Future Marketing founder Casey Pollock is working on the Hologarden app to help aspiring gardeners flourish using AR and AI. The app will address gardeners’ needs like recording plant growth and managing plant care and health. Pollock also hosts a free meetup called Augmented Reality Today about creating ARKit apps for beginners, and has taught sessions at UC Berkeley and San Jose State.

Hubli creators Mariana Lech, Ailton Vieira, and Rodolfo Diniz.

Hubli

The Hubli app is a remote learning solution born out of the COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges of in-person education, created by five Apple Developer Academy students in Brazil: Ailton Vieira, Gabriel Taques, Maykon Meneghel, Mariana Lech, and Rodolfo Diniz. Currently in beta testing, Hubli uses AI to enrich the learning experience for both students and teachers, and aims to help make online collaboration more productive.

Justice Royale’s Quintin Rodriguez-Harrison.

Justice Royale

Zapling Studios wants to create games enjoyable by veteran and novice gamers alike. Its first game, Justice Royale, uses a proprietary set of gestures, which allows players to focus on gameplay with precise controls for a fast-paced arcade “beat ‘em up” experience. The team is focused on reworking the entire game to include local and online multiplayer capability, in addition to harnessing the power of ARKit to create an immersive experience.

Kickstroid founder David Alston.

Kickstroid

Founder David Alston and his team built Kickstroid to help sneaker enthusiasts discover their favorite shoes with features they couldn’t find in other sneaker apps, and provide a platform to build community among sneakerheads worldwide. In addition to his work on the app, Alston is also head of outreach for Blacks and African Americans in Computing (BAAC) at the University of Illinois, hosting coding events for young Black and Latinx students.

Nailstry co-founder Aurelia Edwards.

Nailstry

Nailstry is the first marketplace exclusively for press-on nails and nail art, connecting indie artists with press-on nail enthusiasts. Created by Aurelia Edwards, Nailstry uses augmented reality to digitally measure and create custom-fit press-on nails while also improving inefficiencies in the creation process. Nailstry’s team empowers makers with market education and tools to grow their businesses, supports minority founders, and gives back through coding programs such as Black Girls Code.

Ashley McKoy, Ositanachi Otugo, and Harold Lomotey.

The Peek: TV Shows and Movies

The Peek: TV Shows and Movies app started as a senior class project for founders and Howard University graduates Ashley McKoy, Harold Lomotey, and Ositanachi Otugo in 2018. The team created this mobile social media platform to share TV and movie recommendations among family and friends, while also seeking to amplify titles from Black creators and actors, as a solution to endless scrolling and a lack of reliable online recommendations for streaming content.

TuneBend creator Matt Garrison.

TuneBend

TuneBend creator Matt Garrison is a noted musician who laid the foundation for the app when he opened his live venue, ShapeShifter Lab, in Brooklyn, New York. The app helps educational organizations and performing artists create, teach, distribute, and sell new and existing music using video and audio clips, especially useful during the pandemic, when in-person performances and teaching have not been possible.

Source and photos: Apple

Barbie teams up with Black Girls Code

El Segundo, CA—Barbie is hardly a stranger to the wonderous world of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. Over the past six decades, she has embarked upon pioneering careers as a computer engineer, a scientist, a video game developer and an astronaut. Her newest professional role shows girls that they can smash barriers in an a field where women, and particularly women of color, are underrepresented: robotics and engineering.

The Barbie Career of the Year Robotics Engineer doll, created in partnership with the educational outreach organization Black Girls Code, comes equipped with a doll-sized laptop, a robot and lab safety glasses. Available in four different versions, she joins a lineup of more than 200 career-specific Barbies created since her debut in 1959. In addition to calling attention to a critical need for more female scientists and computer coders and civil engineers, the ultimate aim of Barbie Robotics Engineer is to pique interest in STEM careers from a young age and inspire and unlock the limitless potential in every girl.

Black Girls Code

Today, only 10.8 percent of civil engineers are women, and just 20 percent of all software coders are women. Meanwhile, African-American representation in the U.S. tech industry continues to average only 2.5 percent, and African-American women comprise just one quarter of that percentage. Barbie  is not only encouraging girls to explore STEM through imaginative play with the new Robotics Engineer Barbie, but also to venture into robotics and coding through its support of Black Girls Code robotics workshops. The non-profit launched in 2011 with the goal of providing African-American girls with the experience, knowledge and skills to occupy some of the 1.4 million computing jobs expected to be available in the U.S. by 2020.

To help make STEM education more accessible and to empower girls with the foundational tools they need to learn to code, the Barbie brand provided a donation of support to Black Girls Code that will be used to fund scholarships for girls to continue their interest in STEM fields. The Barbie brand also gifted the organization with Robotics Engineer Barbie dolls to be given to girls attending their robotics workshops throughout the year.

“We are proud to launch Robotics Engineer Barbie to expose girls to this underrepresented career field and show them that they can be anything,” said Lisa McKnight, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Barbie. “By playing with Robotics Engineer Barbie both on and offline, we hope to inspire girls’ interest in STEM which may lead to a future career in engineering.”

Kimberly Bryant, Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls Code, takes that mission seriously. “To be able to have girls from different backgrounds and cultures connect with Robotics Engineer Barbie in our workshops—and to dream big in the world of STEM with Barbie helping to lead the way—is very special,” said Bryant. “I’m really excited about this opportunity to both work with the Barbie team on the Barbie Career of the Year launch, and to together ensure that our Black Girls Code participants are able to have one of their own to inspire them beyond what we’re doing in our workshops to promote STEM.”

A “Q & A” with Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant on promoting STEM and coding skills
Mattel recently chatted with Bryant to discuss Black Girls Code’s partnership with Barbie, and what that alliance means for girls everywhere. Check out their conversation with the veteran electrical engineer and social impact entrepreneur below.

How are Mattel and the Barbie brand working together with Black Girls Code to interest young girls in STEM?
We’re working with Barbie and Mattel around the launch of the Robotics Engineer Barbie doll, and Mattel has provided a grant of support for Black Girls Code that is part of our new partnership. Mattel has also gifted us Robotics Engineer Barbie dolls that we’ll be giving to our girls in all of the different robotics courses, workshops and camps that we have for the rest of this year.

What excites you most about this new partnership between Mattel and Black Girls Code?
There have been several different career engineer dolls from Barbie, and this one in particular is the fifth in the STEM field. It has four different cultures that are represented through Robotics Engineer Barbie. The doll allows us to provide an actual image to various cultures where they can see themselves represented in this career doll as a robotics engineer. I think that’s very special in that it allows girls to not have to make as big of a leap, thanks to the cultural elements represented in the toy that they’re playing with. They can now see someone that looks like they do in the STEM field. It’s very important for girls to be able to see themselves in these roles in which they’re not traditionally represented.

Why is this the right time for a toy like this? What challenges within the greater educational landscape do Robotics Engineer Barbie—and Black Girls Code—help to address?
This is the right time because we’re in the midst of the next industrial or tech revolution. There is nothing that we do or experience at this point that I can imagine not having tech involved in. When we look at robotics and where the workforce of the future is going, robotics will be a huge part of this next revolution. It’s important that we have women and girls behind the technological innovations of the future. It’s critical that we know how to build and code these new technologies.

Robotics Engineer Barbie helps to prepare our girls for that future. It gives them something to aspire to—new empowering stories to tell—and readies them in many ways to step into the future and become robotics engineers. And our Barbie brand-supported Black Girls Code workshops equip them with the skills necessary to become the next generation of tech creators.

What does aligning with Black Girls Code—and further embracing robotics coding and engineering as a career path—say about Barbie, and about how Mattel’s Barbie brand is evolving overall?
For me, I am a woman who grew up with Barbie. I literally still have Barbie dolls that are in their packages so nothing happens to them. When I was growing up, Barbie was a part of my world, and she was part of the image of what a woman was and what she could be. Those are all the things that Barbie was and is to me, so I am very excited to see the Barbie brand being open to further creating the vision of the woman of the future, the woman of the 21st century.

Who is she? What does she do? What does she look like? What are her interests? What are her capabilities? Mattel is moving to create that vision in the Barbie brand products that they bring into the market, and it’s also engaging with organizations like Black Girls Code and Tynker Coding For Kids to create a more in-depth tool, so Barbie goes beyond just a play doll. She also actually becomes a tool for learning.

I’m happy to see Mattel doing this to support a vision for what the world will be like in the future. It doesn’t look like what the world looked like in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was growing up. It looks very different now. To see Mattel being open to changing their designs and being open to this diversity we’re moving into is something I’m very excited about.

How will this new Barbie doll inspire kids to dream big and open their hearts and minds to STEM opportunities?
The possibilities are endless today in terms of girls’ imaginations and what they can become. They now have a representation of that with Robotics Engineer Barbie, a toy that they’re playing with and engaging with on a very personal basis.


“This doll allows them to dream of a career that they may not necessarily see around them day today.”


It shows them that it is absolutely an opportunity to move into roles in not just robotics but other areas of science, technology, engineering and math as well. Robotics Engineer Barbie is the image of what they can be.

What do you want kids to see, think and feel when they take part in Black Girls Code robotics workshops?
We want the girls to feel powerful. We want them to feel empowered. We want them to feel that their options are limitless. We don’t want them to see any barriers—just what they can do, be or become. That is the core of this Barbie partnership for us. It is to drive this message home in a really tangible way to make sure that girls understand they have all of the tools around them to become the innovation leaders of tomorrow.

What specific STEM skills will participating girls explore and master through the Black Girls Code robotics workshops? And how will the Robotics Engineer Barbie dolls be integrated into the workshops?
We will be giving the girls who take our robotics workshops, starting with our Los Angeles locations, a Robotics Engineer Barbie. They will take the doll home at the end of the day. And we’re also very interested at looking at how we can utilize some of the Tynker curriculum to engage with much younger girls in our workshops throughout the rest of the year.

Our robotics workshops are a bit of a mixture in terms of skills acquisition. The girls in those classes are both building robots and coding. You not only have to build a robot— and actually put it together—you also have to get into the back-end code to create the movements. Our workshops cover many other aspects of technology, from video game design, to web design, to mobile app development, to artificial intelligence and much more.

What does teaming up with Mattel and the Barbie brand mean for Black Girls Code?Personally, it means everything to me because I’m a big Barbie fan going way back. I really love the brand, and it meant a lot for me in my formative years. So for me to be able to merge the empowering Barbie brand with my passion for tech now—and to help engage girls in STEM and as leaders in technology—it’s absolutely a full-circle moment for me.

For Black Girls Code to start out as a small, grassroots organization with the dream of giving girls a voice and to blaze new avenues for them—and to be able to partner with companies like Mattel and the iconic, trailblazing Barbie brand—it means a lot. It means that our message was heard. Our work was seen. And we’re moving forward to empower the girls of the future.

— Sources and photos: Mattel, Inc. and Black Girls Code

Black Girls Code

Black Girls Code gets $2.8 Million space within Google NY HQ

Black Girls Code now has its own space within the confines of Google’s New York HQ – in a space worth $2.8m – with aims of connecting young girls directly with the tech industry.

by Colm Gorey, SiliconRepublic

NEW YORKSiliconRepublic and CNet report Black Girls Code (BGC), an organization founded in 2011 by Inspirefest 2015 speaker Kimberley Bryant, has made strides in encouraging young black girls to pick up coding, given that they are one of the least represented groups in the wider tech sector.

Now, having previously stated that it hopes to introduce 1 million girls to coding by 2040, Black Girls Code has managed to acquire a direct line with the tech industry, having agreed a deal with Google to establish an office space in its New York HQ.

According to CNet, the office space, worth $2.8 million on the real estate market given its location in Manhattan, has been given to Black Girls Code as a gift to the organization.

‘We need a tech sector that looks like the society it serves’

The overall aim of giving the organization its own space next to Google is to shorten the time between a young black girl starting to learn to code, to them landing a job in the tech sector.

bgc-nyprez

In a statement, Google’s head of external affairs, William Floyd, said of the creation of a permanent office space for the organization: “We need a tech sector that looks like the society it serves, and groups like Black Girls Code are ensuring that we can cultivate and access talent in communities of color.”

Photo: Renetta English (left), Past President BDPA-NY, Kimberly Bryant , Founder of Black Girls Code, and Judaea Y. Lane, Past President BDPA-NY participate in local BDPA Chapter workshops with other STEM organizations nationwide.

According to Google’s latest diversity report, only 19% of its workforce globally are women, and only 1% of its tech staff in the US is black, suggesting that black women are one of the least-represented groups in all of the tech industry.   Read more...

 

— Sources and photos: SiliconRepublic, CNet, bdpatoday, and BDPA-NY

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