Ford Sponsoring Education Hackathon

DETROIT — Ford STEAM Lab, an educational program from the Ford Motor Co. Fund, is sponsoring a two-day hackathon to help middle school students improve their education while exploring high-tech careers.

The 100 students from five Detroit-area middle schools will learn the basics of software coding as they create and “hack” an application that will help them learn better.

Their projects will be judged by a high profile panel of judges as they compete for bragging rights and more than $30,000 in scholarships and awards.

“Student voice and authentic inclusion is important to students succeeding in education,” said Shawn Wilson, manager of multicultural community engagement for the fund. “Ford’s goal is to not only empower students to take control of their educational future, but also discover a potential career pathway in Michigan’s growing technology sector.”

In this effort, the Ford STEAM Lab is collaborating with:
* #YesWeCode, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization that targets low-opportunity youth and provides them with the necessary resources and tools to become world-class computer programmers.
* Level Playing Field Institute, an educational organization based in Oakland, Calif., committed to eliminating the barriers faced by underrepresented people of color in science, technology, engineering and math.
* Sisters Code, a Detroit organization dedicated to helping women succeed in STEM-related fields.
* Grand Circus, a technology skills training company based in Detroit.
* The National Dropout Prevention Center Network, a national organization that works on strategies to increase the graduation rate in America’s schools.

“In the new century, technology is central to middle class jobs and income,” said Van Jones, founder of #YesWeCode. “We are proud to work with partners like Ford and the Level Playing Field Institute, to support 21st Century opportunities to students in Detroit.”

The hackathon will be held March 27-28 at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center at 2826 Bagley St., Detroit.

MSNBC will broadcast live from the hackathon on Friday, March 27. More details on the program will be announced at a later date.

After learning coding skills on the first day, students will present their app ideas to a panel of judges on the second day. The panel will include Van Jones, who is also an environmental and civil rights activist, and Stephen Henderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press and co-host of Detroit Today on WDET.

At the conclusion of the event, students will hear via Skype about two very different success stories. Detroit native and singer-songwriter Big Sean will speak to the importance of technology in music and how it changed the music industry.

Ford STEAM Lab was launched in October 2014 to spark high=potential, low-opportunity student passion for technology entrepreneurship and careers in traditional STEM fields, as well as automotive design and vehicle technology. STEAM Lab adds an arts component to help students learn how to use creativity and innovation in problem solving and collaboration.

The Ford Motor Co. Fund invests more than $8 million a year in scholarships and other education initiatives. In addition to the Ford STEAM Lab, Ford Fund educational programs include Ford Blue Oval Scholars, Ford Next Generation Learning, Ford College Community Challenge and Ford Driving Dreams Tour.

More at http://community.ford.com.

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