Meta Hosts First-Ever Elevate HBCU Hackathon For Students and Black Busineses

Meta Hosts First-Ever HBCU Hackathon Where Students Solved Problems Facing Local Black-Owned Businesses

Student's group (IStock, Weekend Images Inc)

Meta hosted its first-ever Elevate HBCU Hackathon, a one-day intensive for students interested in marketing and engineering to solve issues faced by Black-owned businesses with the support of Facebook design experts.

“Black-owned small businesses have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic with higher closure rates and lost sales,” Irene Walker, Meta Elevate Program Director, told AfroTech. “In an effort to help solve the problems these businesses are facing, we’re excited to kick off the Meta Elevate HBCU Hackathon. We’re excited to partner with HBCUs to provide an opportunity for students to join us in creating solutions to support Black-owned small businesses.”

Meta’s Elevate HBCU Hackathon, which took place on Nov. 6, placed HBCU students into teams and paired them with small, local Black-owned businesses. Students were guided through the design processes for their solutions with the help of mentors at Facebook. 

Nasir B, a student at Morehouse College, said participating in the event brought him closer to his career goals. 

“This was my first ever hackathon and participating in the process felt like a huge step in my journey to becoming a software engineer,” he said. “I feel more confident in my ability to work with a team, receive mentorship and work under a deadline and I appreciate Meta for the experience.”  

The hackathon included a judging session where teams pitched their prototypes to a panel of judges made up of Facebook employees and community entrepreneurs. The winning team included students from Alabama A&M University, Bowie State University, Morehouse College and Philander Smith College. 

“Hackathons build community by bringing together diverse backgrounds to solve problems. The Meta Elevate HBCU Hackathon empowered students to work with Meta employees, and solve problems for Black-owned small businesses,” Meta Hackathon Program Manager, Neta Retter, said. ”The students who participated exemplified leadership and empathy to make real change for businesses who needed support, while gaining valuable skills and experience for their future.”