With the Youth Tech Challenge, Digital Girl Inc. challenges Brooklyn kids to envision the changes they would like to see in their community through technology
What do Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yahoo, and apps like Uber, Seamless and Spotify – among many others – in common? They are all founded by men.
Bed-Stuy’s Digital Girl Inc. wants to change that. On Sunday, March 25, the nonprofit will partner with Senator Jesse Hamilton and Medgar Evers College for the second annual Youth Tech Challenge. This year’s theme, A Community Builds, challenges participants to use technology to envision their community in the future– a community that is changed and improved.
“Our goal for this event is to increase awareness within the community about the importance of being able to be producers of technology and not only consumers,” says Michelle Gall, executive director and founder of Digital Girl Inc. (DGI). “Technology is a major catalyst for innovation and change. To thrive in tomorrow’s society, our young students must learn to design, create and express themselves with digital technologies.”
The Youth Tech Challenge, designed for students grades 6 – 12, is a day-long, co-ed hackathon led by Michelle Gall; Toni Robinson, DGI’s board president and director of programming; and Tiffany Murchison, founder and CEO of the media boutique TJM and board member of DGI. During Sunday’s event, participants will learn how to code through the creation of games that tackle real-world issues impacting their communities. Also, they are encouraged to create a mobile app that creates solutions for a more prosperous community.
In 2014, digital marketing and branding professional Michelle Gall founded Digital Girl Inc. in Bedford Stuyvesant, an area where over 50 percent of the population is female, where less than 38 percent complete high school and where 32 percent of the residents live below the poverty line.
It was this reality, combined with the fact that the technology and software industries still suffer from an extreme lack of diversity, that inspired the launch of DGI. Since then, the team has been uber-motivated to encourage inner-city youth, especially girls, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The organization’s goal: To help create an adequate number of STEM professionals and to remedy the underrepresentation of women and people of color in those fields.
“Minorities and women of color are underrepresented within STEM. One of the largest contributors to this factor is lack of exposure to STEM disciplines during early formulating years,” says Gall. “It is our hope that this event demystifies STEM and eradicates the negative stigma associated with working or studying in these fields. We want them to walk away empowered by the endless possibilities that become available if one uses technology to create – and to know that STEM disciplines can be fun and anyone can do it!”
Since DGI’s inception, the nonprofit’s growth has been exponential. The team is currently operating 13 in-school or after-school programs and has introduced computer science and technology to over 3200 students throughout Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. Also Sunday’s hackathon looks very promising: So far more than 100 participants have registered and the enrollment is still open.
Gall and her team will certainly do their part to continue to inspire the next generations of female and minority tech founders– the future Gates, Jobs and Musks.
Digital Girl, Inc presents The Youth Tech Challenge, A Community Builds
When: Sunday, March 25 | 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: Medgar Evers College Library, 1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11225
For more information about the event or to register, go here.