The Rebuild The Dream Innovation Fund is partnering with Essence and Prince to launch our newest initiative, #YesWeCode, at the 20th Annual Essence Festival on July 4-7 in New Orleans. On Tuesday, Dec. 3rd, Essence Magazine released the following press release, announcing this partnership.
#YesWeCode asks: What if you were given the opportunity to flip the current American status quo / economic landscape upside down? What if youth from the east side of Detroit, the southside of Chicago, the fourth quarter of New Orleans, etc. came together in collaboration to build amazing game-changing apps, support one another in partnership, mentorship and entrepreneurship and to begin elevating the condition of low-opportunity neighborhoods across the country? What if we mobilized the nation around the #YesWeCode initiative to train at least 100,00 youth from low-opportunity neighborhoods to become high-level computer programmers?
#YesWeCode is a response to the negative image of low-opportunity youth in America. The unnerving death of Trayvon Martin has given us an opportunity to create a bold, game-changing strategy.
"I always remember how Trayvon Martin's hoodie was seen as a justification for his murder," says Van Jones, the founder of The Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund and #YesWeCode. "But billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wears hoodies -- and nobody shoots at him. So let's flip the script: let's give our hoodie-wearing youth the same tools, training and technology that the kids taking over Silicon Valley have. I hope #YesWeCode creates 100,000 'Mark Zuckerberg's' -- and that a whole lot of them look just like Trayvon Martin."
So, what if youth of color, girls, and low-income youth were given the space and motivation to “geek-out” during a hack-a-thon, a robotics competition or a pitch mixer? Is that the secret sauce to increasing their economic employability and their neighborhood’s social prosperity? No, not entirely. You are. And you’re equipped with all the tools they’ll need – energy, excitement, wisdom, cultural values and tradition, coding knowledge, business and investment “know-how”, passion for economic justice, a commitment to thriving communities and to diversifying technology innovation.
Join the movement. Become a part of #YesWeCode.