November 16, 2016

UM student startup wins 1st round of $100,000 Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Winners

Pictured: Mark Sanna of EO-SOFLO, Felix Puello, runner-up, Alex Coren, winner of the regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, and Aaron Lee of EO-SFLO.

 

Alex Coren, University of Miami student and founder of startup healthcare technology company Wambi, has earned the chance to compete for a grand prize worth $100,000 in prize money and services to boost her business, as part of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) competition hosted by the South Florida chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO-SOFLO).

Coren and five other local finalists presented their business plans Wednesday to EO-SOFLO judges at the Miami Dade College (MDC) Idea Center.

Wambi is a digital caregiver management and reward platform designed to improve patient care and “bring compassion back to the forefront of healthcare.”

The event runner up was MDC student Felix Puello of Onetown Boards, a company which uses technology to improve skateboard performance and safety. (Felix was recently featured in this Miami Herald story.)

“All of the kids’ ideas were fantastic,” said Mark Sanna, GSEA chairman and former EO-SOFLO president. “We’re going to be hearing much more from these young business leaders in the years to come.”

For the local win, Coren earned $1,000 in cash, $16,500 in services and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals in Kansas City, Missouri, where she will compete against 25 other student entrepreneurs from around the country.  The national winner then travels to Frankfurt, Germany in April for the chance at the global prize worth $100,000.

“The competition is tough, but we’re fortunate to have so much young talent and entrepreneurial resources here in South Florida that create a rich environment for business inspiration and success,” said Aaron Lee, president of EO-SOFLO and founder of Miami Lakes-based Illuminati Studios.  “Our organization is very proud to be part of this entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

EO-SOFLO has sponsored GSEA for six years, in addition to teaming up with MDC’s Idea Center, Florida International University, University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University and other institutions to foster student and other start-up business initiatives.

EO-SOFLO is one of the world’s largest EO chapters, with approximately 180 members whose businesses account for more than $2billion in annual revenues and 10,000 jobs in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

For more information, visit www.eosoflo.com.

November 10, 2016

Latin American and Caribbean entrepreneurs complete Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative in Miami

Globalties

The 14 YLAI fellows with Mark Sanna and Lillian Roberts of EO (Entrepreneurs' Organization) South Florida.

 

By Maria de los Angeles

On Friday, November 4, young entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean pitched their business plans to a panel of local judges at Florida International University’s Brickell campus. The pitch session was the final event in the month-long Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a fellowship program initiated by President Obama and funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program matched 250 emerging social and business leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean with local mentors in 21 city hubs across the U.S.; 14 of them did their residency in Miami with the help of Global Ties Miami, a non-profit that has been facilitating citizen diplomacy through cultural, educational and professional exchange tours since the 1950s.

YLAI set out to establish networks between young leaders and business mentors across the hemisphere. While in Miami, the fellows worked with their mentors for take-aways they could apply to their existing startup ventures back home.

The mentors and hosts were as diverse as Miami’s international business community. Fellows ranged from a cacao farmer in Belize to an Augmented Reality app developer from Trinidad and Tobago, to an environmentally conscious shoe manufacturer from Peru and a bespoke seamstress from Costa Rica, among others.

Some of the hosts were themselves Miami startups that have moved beyond the alpha phase: a biscuit manufacturer from Guyana worked with Lemon City Tea; the owner of a brand management company in Paraguay received mentorship from The New Tropic; and an e-commerce businessman from Nicaragua learned about tech business models from Tesser Health.

All of the fellows have founded businesses that are poised for next-level growth. They came to the U.S. to learn best practices from their mentors and to explore ways of developing their homegrown ideas within an international network.

“We were thrilled to host this group of inspiring young entrepreneurs in Miami,” said Emilie Baird, Director of Programs for Global Ties Miami. “The YLAI program contributed to deeper community connections and collaborations, both internationally and locally.

Nomad Tribe Shop and Lemon City Tea, who were both hosts and have since partnered, or the partnership that has developed between David Medina, founder of Qubo (Queer Bogotá, a non-profit that works to build self-esteem in the LGBT community through sports) and his host organization, the World Out Games, a major olympics-like event that will be coming to Miami in 2017.”

During the pitch session on November 4, each fellow had four minutes to present their business models to a panel of judges for the opportunity to compete in a national competition in Washington, D.C. with other fellows chosen from the 21 host cities. The final winner is set to win a cash prize to use for business development at home.

The judges included Carlos A. Huerta, President and Founder of PLC International, Emma Wing, Business Advisor ITMS Group, a company she co-founded with her husband, Robert Wing, and Christopher McKenney, media entrepreneur and CEO of Mango Media.

The third place winner, Guillermo Jimenez worked with mentor Humberto Lee of Tesser Health and is the founder of Eleganza Boutique, an e-commerce platform in Nicaragua. E-commerce giants E Bay and Amazon don’t sell products in the country of six million where most people are wary of online shopping -- only 20% are active, according to Jimenez. The entrepreneur seeks to build trust and to “become the Amazon for Central America.” He currently sells imported merchandise via the Facebook marketplace but the business will grow with a proprietary website.

Second place went to Bahamian entrepreneur Ashleigh Rolle, who saw room for improvement in travel options to connect the 700 islands that make up the nation. “It’s Uber for boat travel,” she said as she explained Skipper, an online platform that connects local commuters and travelers to boat captains operating in the Bahamas. Rolle’s mentor was Nicholas Scherb of 26 North Yachts, a brokerage based in Fort Lauderdale.

Kadeem Pet-Grave of Jamaica won first place for Educatours JA, a company that plans and executes gamified tours and team building activities for schools. “Learning shouldn’t be boring,” said Pet-Grave as he explained how schools can request customized mobile technology gamification for field trips featuring fun activities such as treasure hunts with score keeping and prizes. Pet-Grave’s mentors were Charles Kropke and Alison Klapper-León of Coral Gables-based tour company Dragonfly Expeditions.

The current YLAI program will continue into Spring of 2017, when some of the mentors will travel to their fellows’ countries for continued professional learning exchanges.

Maria de los Angeles is an independent journalist who writes for Global Ties Miami.

Globalties2

Nicaragua fellow Guillermo Jimenez working with host mentor Humberto Alexander Lee of Tesser Health.

June 22, 2016

Two Thiel Fellows are gaming entrepreneurs from Fort Lauderdale

Two Fort Lauderdale men were among  The Thiel Foundation's 2016 class of 29 Thiel Fellows announced today. The fellowship provides young people with $100,000 to learn by doing rather than by following conventional paths like college. This year’s cohort was selected from more than 6,000 applications received from around the world.

“We launched the fellowship in 2011 to test a simple thesis: college isn’t right for everyone—especially for young people who want to create new things,” said Blake Masters, president of the Thiel Foundation. “This has been proven true—by the successes of our past fellows, by the new applications we get every year, and by the growing numbers of young people who are creating their own career paths outside of college, with or without a fellowship from us.”

Thiel Fellows receive mentorship and guidance from current and former fellows, as well as from the Thiel Foundation’s network of technology entrepreneurs, investors, and scientists. The Fort Lauderdale fellows, both involved in gaming startups,  are:

Joey Levy (now living in New York)
Quizr
Sports Gaming
Joey founded Draftpot, a daily fantasy sports platform, from his dorm room in 2014. He is now working on Quizr, a sports betting application that launches in Europe in late 2016.

Matthew Salsamendi (along with James Boehm) (now living in Seattle, WA)
Beam
Social Gaming
Matt and  James co-founded Beam, an interactive live-streaming platform for gamers. Beam lets viewers of live-streamed video game sessions get involved in the game, influencing gameplay in real time.

 

 

June 06, 2016

Multi-campus StartUP FIU gets ready for takeoff

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Emily Gresham and Robert Hacker, shown at Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, are spearheading the StartUP FIU program. It will include three hubs, with programs for food businesses, tech and social entrepreneurship, and will be open to the community as well as to students. Alexia Fodere For The Miami Herald

Below: One of the events held for students as part of StartUP FIU. Photo by Daniela Ferrato.

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By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Cheng photoIn the culinary kitchens of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Michael Cheng smelled opportunity. The commercial facilities were only being used about half time; as the director of the food-and-beverage program, Cheng thought FIU should offer the excess capacity to companies for a fee.

But after a discussion with Emily Gresham, who is spearheading a university-wide StartUP FIU program, and its student leader Valeria Siegrist, Cheng’s mindset changed. “They opened my eyes... They told me ‘there is an entire community of food entrepreneurs out there who would die to have this space but they can’t afford it.’ and I said ‘Well, let’s open that up to them.’ That’s how Food FIU got started.”

Beginning this fall, the Food FIU program will help entrepreneurs from low- and moderate-income communities in three stages of development – those at the idea stage, entrepreneurs selling in farmers’ markets but are ready to move to the next level, and later stage companies that want to scale. Cheng (pictured at right), who is also an associate processor, said StartUP FIU will start working with firms from North Miami, where the Biscayne Bay Campus is located, with a potential Homestead outpost at a later time. The program is free, and the entrepreneurs do not have to be affiliated with FIU in any way.

The Food innovation hub, supported in part by a $500,000 grant from Citi Foundation, will be one leg of a larger effort called StartUP FIU launching this fall. The interdisciplinary multi-campus resource for students, faculty, staff, alumni and entrepreneurs in the community will include physical spaces, programs and events for entrepreneurs and entrepreneur-wannabes to meet, collaborate, be mentored and take training. An accelerator will work with teams on commercializing concepts.

“Our economy increasingly offers opportunities to people who are able to make good jobs rather than take good jobs. We see this transformation as emblematic of what we have to do at FIU,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg. “FIU is a huge cluster of talent ... What we are trying to do is provide platforms for that talent to come together around the capabilities that we have. ... We want to provide a safe haven for that talent to come together, with some supervision, to develop products, ideas and opportunities.”

Initially, StartUP FIU, will take root in three locations: the Modesto Maidique campus in Sweetwater, the Hospitality School at the Biscayne Bay campus, and a facility near Tamiami airport serving the growing cadre of technology and medical businesses there. The program has been appropriated $1.25 million from the state in addition to the Citi Foundation funding. It is run by Gresham, FIU’s assistant vice president for Research – Innovation and Economic Development, and Robert Hacker, StartUP FIU’s director.

The program joins existing FIU entrepreneurship resources including the Small Business Development Center, a new Tech Station, the Miami Fintech Forum and the Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center, most located on the Maidique campus on Tamiami Trail. FIU is also a designated “changemaker campus” for Ashoka, the global network for social entrepreneurship.

Despite those existing resources, students had no one-stop-shop for connecting with resources, concluded StartUP FIU’s team after conducting more than 100 interviews with students, faculty and community leaders. Often, students didn’t know where to go, nor were they connecting with the larger community.

“Our students are our energy, our talent, and the diversity of our students, faculty, alumni and the community improves collaboration,” said Gresham. “We’ve decided to have a more inclusive StartUP FIU, which means everyone’s welcome.”

Regionwide, students have more resources than just a few years ago. The Idea Center at MDC opened 18 months ago with an accelerator for MDC students, startup contests, events and a coding school. The University of Miami has been expanding its commercialization efforts, particularly in the healthcare area, working closely with dozens of startups. Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton opened Tech Runway, an accelerator that also offers funding and mentorship for student and community teams. Broward College opened its incubator last month.

These join a region-wide effort, fueled by the Knight Foundation, to accelerate entrepreneurship by expanding resources for mentorship, talent-building and funding. Entrepreneurial co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators have been proliferating, but most are in Miami’s urban core.

That’s the void in the ecosystem StartUP FIU hopes to help fill by focusing on Miami-Dade’s lower income communities and far west suburbs. “There’s a lot of activity, but we are still looking for depth, right?,” said Gresham. “We think we have something to offer in terms of depth building.”

Social entrepreneurship will be a key facet of the program, said Hacker. He expects ongoing themes to include sustainable cities, sea level rise, food supply, medical technology and education technology. An international businessman, Hacker has been teaching entrepreneurship and socially concsious business for more than a decade at FIU’s Honors College and Engineering School and MIT’s Sloan School.

“Miami enjoys the distinction of being the only city in the world that has two Ashoka Changemaker campuses – FIU and MDC. I think that both universities are fomenting all kinds of social entrepreneurs looking for support. We are interested and committed to putting incubators in communities that have not been served by incubators, and I think that will also naturally produce social entrepreneurs,” said Hacker.

As a startup itself, StartUP FIU has been developing over the past year, gaining grassroots support. StartUP FIU student directors Siegrist and Alessia Tacchella took Hacker’s course on Entrepreneurship and Design Thinking. That got the entrepreneurial juices flowing. But instead of working on their own startups, they jumped on the opportunity to help develop StartUP FIU. Tacchella, a finance/economics major who recently graduated, took the lead.

They gathered a diverse group of students with marketing, finance and technical expertise and began meeting weekly to plan the launch and test concepts, she said. About 80 to 100 students have been turning out for events. “When you tell them you want to help them to make their idea become a company, they are thrilled about it. They can’t believe all the resources we are bringing in on campus,” said Siegrist, a communications student.

Wifredo Fernandez, who co-founded The LAB Miami and was one of the founders of MDC’s’ Idea Center, offered insights on best practices and valuable connections, said Gresham. He now works with Gresham in the Innovation and Economic Development department and is StartUP FIU’s associate director.

Applications are being accepted at startup.fiu.edu for the accelerator’s first class. The free 13-week program will begin Sept. 6, will include weekly programs, mentorship and regular milestones for teams to meet, and end with a traditional demo day in which teams pitch to investors. The new StartUP FIU hub at the Maidique campus, a-10,000-square-foot space in the Marc building, should be ready by January; the program will operate in temporary space until then. Programs at the Biscayne Bay campus and near the Tamiami Airport will also get underway in the fall. The services are free.

“It’s an idea whose time has come,” said Rosenberg. “We’re pumped, we’re ready to go.”

Nancy Dahlberg; 305-376-3595; @ndahlberg

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2016

Code Art Miami funds MDC scholarship to encourage women to get into animation, gaming

Codeart
Members of Code Art Miami’s event committee present MDC with a check to fund a new scholarship for Animation and Gaming students at MAGIC. From left to right: Diana Bien Aime (MDC Wolfson Dean of Academic Affairs), Josie Goytisolo, Sofia Garcia, Mauricio Ferrazza (MAGIC Chairperson), Amy Austin Renshaw, Lander Basterra, Maria Mejia, Lisa Hauser and Allison Cammack.

By Amy Austin Renshaw

For the past two years I have had the privilege to be an instructor with the Girls Who Code Club at iPrep Academy. The club was founded last school year by then junior, Maria Mejia, who was inspired to get more girls into coding after completing the Girls Who Code summer immersion program. This year Maria wanted to do even more to inspire girls to learn to code, and from that was born the idea for Code Art Miami, an event aimed at encouraging more girls to learn to code by highlighting the creative side of computer science through a student digital art exhibition and speaker symposium. 

Volunteers from three local Girls Who Code Clubs (iPrep Academy, The Idea Center @ MDC, and Pinecrest Library) and CODeLLA, a local organization that teaches coding and tech skills to Latina girls, came together to plan the event, which was hosted in early February at the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at MDC Wolfson Campus. The event was a great success with over 300 attendees and over 150 student submissions of art-generating programs that ran on digital flat screens throughout the event venue.

In addition to the event, Maria worked to establish the Code Art Miami Scholarship fund at MDC to give back to our host and to make a positive impact on more lives. "A disadvantaged student should not be limited by finances in order to pursue an education, especially when the odds are already against her. Just as I have been fortunate enough to have an entire network of supportive friends and mentors, the Code Art Miami scholarship is my way of providing those same resources to someone else,” said Maria. 

"In setting up the scholarship, we were amazed to learn that just $7,000 would cover tuition costs for one student for both years in the two-year MAGIC program,” said iPrep math teacher and Girls Who Code Club advisor Lisa Hauser. Funds for the scholarship were raised at the event through a silent auction, which included donations from Miami Heat player Chris Bosh and artist Ahol, and through continued post-event sales of a limited-edition print donated by London-based artist Ryca. By early April, we reached our fundraising goal, and on April 20th, Maria and the rest of the Code Art Miami planning committee presented MDC with a check for $7,000 to establish a scholarship fund for women or other underrepresented minorities enrolled in one of MAGIC’s two-year programs. “Currently only about one-fifth of gaming developers are women. This new scholarship will help encourage more women to enter this field,” said Mauricio Ferrazza, MAGIC Chairperson. 

Volunteers who helped Maria make the event and the scholarship fund a reality include my event co-chairJosie Goytisolo and executive planning committee members Lander Basterra, Allison Cammack, Marina Ganopolsky, Sophia Garcia and Lisa Hauser, all of whom share a passion for education — particularly computer science eduction — and a belief in its ability to change lives. Speaking for the group, Allison said, "Coding teaches problem-solving, teamwork, and tenacity. Whatever you can dream, coding gives you the tools to build. And with imagination and determination, you can change the world.” 

Work is already underway for next year’s event. We are reaching out now to area schools to schedule information sessions and workshops in the fall for both teachers and students in the hopes of involving more girls next year. In addition to including more students, we plan to add age brackets and categories for next year’s competition. “It was incredibly difficult to choose just three winners from this year’s submissions, which came from girls in grades 4-12 and included still images, 3D-printed art, animations, and interactive art programs,” said Head Judge Marina Ganopolsky. To learn more about Code Art Miami or schedule an information session at your school or club, email amy@codeart.miami.

March 19, 2016

Tick-tock, Business Plan Challenge deadline looms - your questions answered

By Nancy Dahlberg / ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

Planning to enter the Business Plan Challenge? Time is ticking away.

We offer three tracks to win our contest, which is sponsored by the Florida International University Pino Global Entrepreneurship Center. There is a community track, open to all South Floridians; an FIU track for the university’s students and alumni; and a high school track. You can enter our contest with a business idea or an existing business if it is not more than 2 years old. The deadline is March 28 for the community and FIU tracks and April 4 for the high school track.

Here are some common questions we have received.

I entered last year but did not win. May I enter again?

Yes, we welcome repeaters, as long as you were not one of the top three winners or the People’s Pick and your business isn’t more than 2 years old. Several of our winners of the past did not bring home the win the first year they entered. Freshen up that plan and try again.

May I enter both the community and FIU tracks with the same plan?

Nope, pick one. For the FIU track, at least one member of your top management team must be student or alumnus of the university.

Is there a required template I should follow for my entry?

The short answer is no. Your entry is a three-page business plan, with one addendum page allowed for a chart or graphic, and we allow people the freedom to send it in as they would like. But we suggest you consider including all or most of this information: brief product or service description; problem it is solving in the market (market need); a little about your target market and competition; relevant experience of your team; your business model — how you will make money — and growth strategy (how will you scale it); your marketing strategy (how will you get the word out and sell it); and some financials, for example your startup costs and three years of projections. It can be done. Keep each section brief — bulleted items are your friend. Many use their extra page for their financial chart.

Some people download templates for business plans (easily found in a Google search) and include the categories most relevant. Some use an executive summary they already have written and add to it. People who already have investor decks already have the info in a concise way — just put it into a three-page word doc and you are done. If you are starting from scratch, good for you! You have probably been meaning to do it anyway, and it will be a roadmap you can continue to update in months and years to come. Find the rules of the Challenge here.

Why the page limit?

Short business plans are in vogue, actually. Investors (and judges) tell me they want the information fast and brief and will ask for more info as they need it. Learning to be concise is both a science and an art, and our judges (who are often in positions where they read a LOT of business plans) have told me over the years that in real life, if you don’t capture their attention in the first page or even the first paragraph, they will move on. Pro tip: Ask someone who doesn’t know anything about your business or business concept to read your plan, or at least the first few paragraphs, to make sure they understand it.

Also, though our judges are almost super-human, we can’t ask them to judge hundreds of full business plans. You can meet our judges here.

What is the biggest mistake people make when they enter?

A lot of entrants spend too much of their precious three pages talking about all the features of their product or service and don’t include enough about the problem it solves, your target market, your business model and how you plan to make money, your team, your financials and your marketing strategy.

Another judge comment I see on a lot of plans: Think bigger. A lot of entrants have concepts with market growth potential but don’t express how they would expand beyond their initial markets. A lot of advice was shared at our recent Business Plan Bootcamp – read about it here.

Any other tips?

Yep. Show your passion. Make every word count. Keep each section brief: Bullet points are your friend. Don’t forget financials: Judges want to see you have thought through startup and operating costs and would like to see projections for at least the first three years. Don’t wait till the last minute. Here are some good reasons to enter.

May I enter more than one business idea?

Yes, as long as they are separate entries.

Why don’t you have a social entrepreneurship track?

We welcome social entrepreneurial companies in all our tracks. We’ve had several winners in recent years with social-impact missions, particularly in the high school track. The plan must be for a for-profit business, not a nonprofit.

My daughter is in the eighth grade. May she enter in the high school track?

Yes, we welcome ambitious middle school students in the high school track. Good luck to her!

Ready, set, enter! Find everything you need on MiamiHerald.com/challenge.

Have a question? Email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com and put Challenge in the subject line.

March 02, 2016

Miami hosts national student entrepreneur competition


Barry and kids at GSEA2Twenty five student-age startup CEOs will compete in  Miami this week for the national finals of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA), hosted by the South Florida chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization  and the Idea Center at Miami Dade College.

Two local students, Andres Cardona of Florida International University and Connor Masterson of University of Miami, will be among the finalists vying for a trip to Bangkok for the global finals and $40,000 in cash and services to build their businesses.

Cardona has launched the Elite Basketball Academy, Inc. and Masterson’s startup is the Royal loyalty rewards program. Other finalists include students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania and schools throughout the nation and Puerto Rico.

"The ambition and drive of these young CEOs is so impressive,” said Mark Sanna, GSEA chairman and past past president of EO-SOFLO. “We’re very proud to welcome their energy to the city and to serve asthe host chapter of this competition.”

“We feel honored to host this event, and provide MDC’s students the opportunity to learn new experiences from top U.S. entrepreneurs,” added the Idea Center Executive Director Leandro Finol.

The final student presentations will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. and are open to the public. 

Pictured above: Barry Kates, president of EO-SOFLO, with Andres Cardona and Connor Masterson.  

Update: Winner of the $10,000 prize and heading  to the global competition is Peeyush Shrivastava, a student at Ohio State University, His startup is Genetesis (www.genetesis.com), a medical tech company. 

 

 

February 03, 2016

Pine Crest School 7th graders win Best in Nation, $20,000 grant in Verizon Innovative App Challenge

Best In Nation3

This winning team will also get help from MIT to develop their app that helps measure, manage concussions in football.

A team of South Florida students have earned Best in Nation honors, a $20,000 grant and wireless tablets in the Verizon Innovative App Challenge for their new technology concept that aids in the study and management of concussions and brain injury in football.

The seventh-graders from Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School also have won the opportunity to work with top developers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to turn their Force Transmission Data Collector  idea into a working wireless app.

 

The technology would incorporate a sensor in each player’s helmet to record and send real-time data on collision force.  The information would be immediately available to coaches, trainers, parents and others.

The concept was one of eight Best In Nation winners selected from more than 1,200 submissions nationwide.

A team from Miami’s  Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High won a Best In State award and a $5,000 grant from Verizon for their LanguaSign  concept, which would help the hearing impaired translate sign language into speech.

 

 The competition, created by Verizon in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and presented in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, challenged student teams across the country to come up with ideas for mobile apps that could solve a problem in their schools or communities, with no coding skills required.

"Each year, students have raised the bar for the App Challenge and we are continuously impressed by their thoughtful solutions to such a broad range of societal issues," said Justina Nixon-Saintil, director of education and technology programs for the Verizon Foundation.

 In June, members of the Pine Crest team and the other Best In Nation winners will present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Nashville, courtesy of Verizon.

Best In Nation1

January 23, 2016

Code Art Miami: Inspiring girls to code through art

Students, parents, educators and the tech community are invited to Code Art Miami’s inaugural event. It will be hosted at the Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) at MDC Wolfson Campus, February 6, 2016.

Code Art Miami is a collaboration between Girls Who Code Clubs and CODeLLA, a non-profit organization teaching coding and tech skills to Latinas from underserved communities. Code Art Miami seeks to inspire more girls to code and to foster community among participating student groups. 

As part of the event, Code Art Miami is sponsoring a friendly competition for girls in grades 4-12. Students submitted digital and 3D-printed art created through coding that will be displayed throughout MAGIC’s facility. Winners will be announced at the event.

 At the event, there will be a short, entertaining speaker program, which will include Mary Spio, founder of Next Galaxy Corp, a Miami-based virtual reality company.  A silent auction will be held featuring unique art and tech-related items. Offerings include two newpieces created just for this event. A painting by world-renowned South Florida native Ahol, and a limited-edition print by London-based artist Ryca. 

There will be a raffle to win a one-week summer camp scholarship at MAGIC for ages 14-19 in animation or gaming and family-friendly MAGICal experiences in the venue’s green screen capture studio and sound recording studio. Net proceeds will fund scholarships for women enrolled in MDC’s gaming or animation program. The goal is to raise $7,000 to fully fund one student for two years.

The event is free and open to the public. It begins at 4:00 pm on Saturday, February 6th, at MAGIC at Miami Dade College, 315 NE 2nd Ave., 1st Floor. To learn more and reserve tickets, visit www.codeart.miami, or email us at info@codeart.miami. To donate to the scholarship fund, go to www.codeart.miami/donate.

“Women represent only 18% of computer science graduates and 22% of gaming developers. The Code Art Miami event will help increase those numbers. Coding is the language of tomorrow, and we want all girls to feel like they can be a part of the future,” said Maria Mejia, student founder of Code Art Miami.

  Maria Mejia is the founder of the Girls Who Code Club at iPrep Academy and student intern with CODeLLA. She graduated from the Girls Who Code summer immersion program in 2014. Since then, she has worked to expand opportunities for young women in computer science.  Code Art Miami was formed as a result of Maria bringing together local coding clubs at iPrep Academy, the Idea Center at MDC, Pinecrest Branch Library, and CODeLLA. Maria's vision is to make Code Art Miami an annual event that builds community and provides opportunities for South Florida girls interested in coding.

-submitted by Code Art Miami

 

January 19, 2016

Girls Who Code programs returning to Miami; registration open

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At Tech Station at Florida International University's School of Computing and Information Sciences (SCIS), Taty Graesser, 15, of Cutler Bay, center, and Riya Srivastava, 16, of Miami, right, were among 20 high school girls who participated in an intensive computer skills summer immersion program in 2015 presented by SCIS and Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization that equips girls with computing skills. MARSHA HALPER MIAMI HERALD STAFF



Girls Who Code, a tech education program for high school girls, is returning to Miami to provide another three years of Summer Immersion Programs, with $500,000 in new support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Applications for Girls Who Code’s 2016 Summer Immersion Program opened Tuesday in 11 cities across the country, including Miami. The program will begin this June and run for seven weeks, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The two Miami-based programs will include a total of 60 rising high school juniors and seniors who demonstrate a passion for technology, regardless of prior coding experience. Applications will be open until March 1 on the Girls Who Code website at girlswhocode.com/apply.

Launched in New York in 2012, Girls Who Code pairs intensive instruction in programming fundamentals, mobile phone development and robotics with engagement opportunities led by top female engineers and entrepreneurs. “The gender gap isn’t just a Silicon Valley issue anymore,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. “The shortage of women in technical roles, whether it’s retail, entertainment or finance is an enormous crisis both in terms of innovation and socio-economic equality throughout the United States.”

Since its founding Girls Who Code has taught more than 10,000 girls in 42 states. The nonprofit conducted programs in 2014 and 2015 in the Miami area with Knight Foundation support.