November 30, 2014
The national attention to the unrest and pain occurring daily in Ferguson, MO and the surrounding St. Louis suburban areas continues to stoke heated conversation about the origins of the issues that caused the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hand of Officer Darren Wilson. Springing out of this tragic event, Hands Up United is a youth-led movement that highlights several mission directives to improve the conditions that continue to exist in communities like Ferguson all across the country. Hands Up United seeks to amplify the voices that seek social justice, to engage the nation on a productive conversation, and to train youth with leadership skills.
An extremely exciting and inspiring program that came of this is a GoFundMe campaign to build the Ferguson Youth Tech Program. Abby Bobe, Community Director for various programs directed at changing children’s lives through STEM education, including Qeyno Labs, moved from the San Francisco area to Ferguson recently in order to volunteer for Hands Up United and recently launched this campaign. According to the campaign description,
“The revolution will be digitized. Computer programming and web development are 21st century skills that can be used to activate ideas, grow small businesses and build grass-root movements. As a way to close the digital divide and address the issues of economic equality, Hands Up United will lead technical training workshops to the Ferguson community.”
This program seeks to provide courses in Web Development, Graphic Design, and Quality Assurance Testing. The initial workshop, offered this Winter, will seek to provide not only a 6-week training course on Web Development and Entrepreneurship, but also a $600 stipend and a Macbook Air laptop to increase the potential for workshop graduates to apply their skills to a valuable contribution to their own future or to a local business. In fact, the course description includes an assignment to build a local business’ digital presence.
The Graphic Design course will be offered as a 5-day program to understand the fundamentals of graphic design and will feature political artists who use art and design to spread the message of empowerment. The crucial Quality Assurance and Testing courses will be offered in Spring and Summer and train students in QA testing and requirements review.
In addition, Qeyno Labs will sponsor a free three-day hackathon at the University of St. Louis in April. From Thursday, April 16 to Saturday, April 18, programmers, designers, innovators, tech enthusiasts, and students are invited to participate in this event.
The Hands Up United Tech Impact community program is also looking to build its mentor resources. Community leaders, tech entrepreneurs, and others interested in building the future of youth in Ferguson and the St. Louis area should apply to work with the participants to help build confidence in the skills they learn throughout the workshop series. A 1:1 pairing ratio is desired during each workshop period to help brainstorm, problem-solve, and pair on lessons.
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