#YesWeCode Will Recruit Minorities for New Tech Training Initiative in the South Bronx
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

(Image: File)

By now you should know, but in case you didn’t: Silicon Valley isn’t the only place where technology startups run rampant.  Innovation hubs are popping up in every nook and cranny across the nation, including the South Bronx.

Nevertheless, coding and programming jobs continue to be out of reach for low-income minorities. But leaders like Assembly member Michael Blake (D, 79th District – The Bronx, NY) are trying to find ways for the country’s tech revolution to transform joblessness in the South Bronx.

[Related: BE Smart: All Star Code Educates Next Generation of Tech Entrepreneurs]

Last week #YesWeCode, an organization founded by former White House appointee, Van Jones, teamed up with Blake to organize New Faces of Tech, a broadcast event at the old Bronx County Courthouse. #YesWeCode, a Dream Corps initiative, works with partners to help train 100,000 low-opportunity youth of color around the country to become high-level computer coders. The historic courthouse recently underwent revitalization after having been abandoned for 37 years.

The event showcased Bronx-based tech exhibitors like Mass Idea, SCENYC, Knowledge House, Liquid Talent and many others. The entire event was broadcast live as New Faces of Tech on MSNBC’s Growing Hope Live from the Bronx and was  sponsored by Ford.

“All of these incredible groups that have been doing phenomenal things that people may not be aware of…We want Bronxite’s to know about them so they can tap into these opportunities,” said Blake in a different interview on Bronxnet.org.

“We look at the courthouse as not just a place of former history, but new history,” said Blake. “We’re launching an innovation center at the heart of our district because we are committed to transforming the South Bronx into a global urban metropolis and getting Bronxite’s jobs and economic opportunities.”

New Faces of Tech will connect youth participants to some of the Bronx’s emerging tech leaders in augmented and virtual reality, digital design, motion, software development, and gaming.

“YesWeCode is a phenomenal collaboration. We are excited about that partnership. It’s a game-changer,” said Blake in the Bronxnet interview. “We’re constantly talk [ing] about our vision of turning the South Bronx into an urban Metropolis. We are not only going to do that through jobs and education. For the 139,000 people that live there, we don’t want you to be consumers, we want you to be creators.”

#YesWeCode’s presence in the Bronx is indeed necessary, as the area has struggled with persistent unemployment for decades. Almost 30% of the Bronx’s 1.4 million residents live at or below the poverty line. Among the boroughs, it ranked last in job growth between 1990 and 2014, at 17.7%, according to the state Labor Department. Additionally, less than 70% of adults living in the Bronx had attained at least a high school diploma; one of the lowest attainment rates in the country.

Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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