Nicki Minaj Funds Village in India to Create Access to Clean Water, Computer Center And More

CREDIT: Getty Images

by Latifah Muhammad via vibe.com

Nicki Minaj is quite the giver.  A week after paying off college loans and tuition for some of her fans, Minaj revealed more of her philanthropic efforts, via social media. Apparently, the Queens native has been quietly sending money to an impoverished village in India for the last couple of years. And her kindness is already paying off.

Thanks to the “No Frauds” rapper’s generosity, villagers now have access to a computer center, a reading program, two water wells, and more.“This is the kind of thing that makes me feel the most proud,” Minaj wrote on Instagram Saturday (May 20).“The money I’ve sent to this village in India for the last couple years [via my Pastor Lydia Sloley], has gotten them a computer center, a tailoring institute, a reading program and two water wells.“

“We complain about the most ridiculous little things when some [people] don’t even have clean water,” she continued. “Blessings to India. Our work is far from done.”Minaj added that she’ll be dropping more details about her charity work in the “near future,” in case fans want to get involved.

To read more, go to: Here’s Why Nicki Minaj Sends Money To A Village In India

TECH: 20 Millennial Innovators of Color You Should Know

(photo credit: Culture Shift Labs)

by Kunbi Tinoye via urbangeekz.com

It’s common knowledge that the tech industry has a diversity problem. Employee demographics clearly show a dearth of women and untapped minorities in the leading technology firms. Then when black and Latinx founders do decide to start businesses of their own they often struggle to raise capital. Research by the #ProjectDiane, for example, reveals African-American female founders raised a mere 0.2 percent of venture funding from 2012-2014. With that being said, there are many young and talented innovators and entrepreneurs of color making waves.

Last month a handful of these trailblazers attended the Culture Shifting Weekend‘s ‘Millennial Breakfast’ at SAP in Palo Alto. Founders were given a platform to talk about their startups to a room full of industry heavyweights. The mission is simple. Create a safe space for diverse talent to secure support, expertise, and partnerships with key players in the tech ecosystem. Co-founder and CEO of On Second Thought, Maci Peterson, at the Culture Shifting Weekend. Peterson was just one of the founders who presented her startup at Millennial Breakfast.

Lloyd Carney, CEO of Brocade Communications Systems, was just one of the influencers in attendance. Carney, a Jamaican immigrant, recently sold his company for $5.5 billion. Other attendees included Danny Allen, VP Diversity & Inclusion, SAP; Jacqueline Jones, Strategic Partnerships, Global Inclusion, LinkedIn; and Rachel Spivey, Diversity Specialist, Google, among others.“I added an element to the event,” said Andrea Hoffman, CEO of the management consultancy Culture Shift Labs, who organized the annual Silicon Valley event.

“We had a Millennial Tech Entrepreneurs and Influencers Breakfast that was sponsored by Vista Equity Partners. It was an experiment and it went really well. There’s more to come from in terms of millennial tech entrepreneurs of color.”From software to recruitment, check out this list of 20 black and brown millennial innovators and founders who all presented their startups (except two bonuses #19 and #20) at the Millennial Breakfast.

1. Stephanie Lampkin – Blendoor

Stephanie Lampkin is a TEDx speaker and founder & CEO of Blendoor, a recruiting application that reduces unconscious bias in hiring. With a 14-year professional career in tech, she is all too familiar with the difficulties faced when one doesn’t look like the typical software engineer. Through technology and data, her mission is to reduce bias and challenge the assumption that homogeneous environments are a meritocracy. Stephanie holds a BS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from MIT Sloan.

2. Harold Hughes – Bandwagon

Harold is the founder & CEO of Bandwagon, an online marketplace and fan community designed to improve the game day experience for sports fans everywhere. As a leader in the growing startup community in Greenville, South Carolina, he is the co-managing Director of Collective: a coworking space for small teams and entrepreneurs. He is also Director of the Founder Institute-Greenville chapter, a member of NEXT, and involved in the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. He recently participated in the Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in Durham, NC. Continue reading

Ne-Yo Invests $2.3 Million in Holberton School, a Free Coding Academy, to help Diversify Tech

Ne-Yo with the Holberton founders Sylvain Kalache and Julien Barbier and Trinity Partner Dan Scholnick (photo via Holberton School)

by Biz Carson via businessinsider.com

The idea of a coding school that charges no upfront tuition was intriguing to Ne-Yo. The Grammy Award-winning artist is certainly not the first musician to invest in Silicon Valley, but he’s one that wants to put his talents and money into helping to solve the diversity challenges facing the tech industry.

On Thursday, Holberton School plans to announce that Ne-Yo invested in the coding academy’s most-recent $2.3 million funding round and is joining its Board of Trustees as a result. “This is not a realistic career for people who came up like me. It’s more realistic to do what I do, be a singer or an NBA star,” Ne-Yo said during a party celebrating his new role at Holberton hosted by Trinity Ventures in San Francisco. “Thanks to these guys it now is,” Ne-Yo said. “I have a platform, and I’m going to use this platform to spread the word.”

While there are plenty of coding schools and bootcamps abound, the Holberton School is taking a different approach by charging no upfront tuition for students to enroll. Instead, graduates have to contribute about 17% of their salaries or internship pay to the school for three years after graduation. Already, Holberton’s free (at least upfront) approach has helped the coding school attract a wide-range of people wanting to break into the tech industry.

Women constitute 40% of its students, and 53% of the student body is people of color.Specifically, Ne-Yo wants to attract more Hispanics and blacks to the coding school based in San Francisco. The school is able to keep its costs low by not hiring formal teachers or giving lectures. Instead much of the curriculum is based around students working on specific projects and helping teach each other. They also work with mentors from companies like Uber and LinkedIn to finish the two-year program.

Already, some of Holberton’s students have interned or been hired at companies like Apple, NASA, and Dropbox. While the coding school is still only about 18 months old, it’s early success is already attracting heavy-hitters like Ne-Yo, along with existing investors including Trinity Ventures, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang, and Jerry Murdock, co-founder of Insight Venture Partners. “I’m very, very excited about this,” Ne-Yo said at the celebration. “Let’s make Holberton one of the biggest schools on the face of the planet.”

To read full article, go to: Ne-Yo invests in Holberton School, a free coding school – Business Insider

OZY Genius Award Winner Claudine Humure Designs 3-D Printed Prosthetic Socket

OZY Genius Award winner Claudine Humure (photo via blackenterprise.com)

article by Robin White Goode via blackenterprise.com

Claudine Humure, a senior at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, is one of the 10 young people awarded $10,000 as a winner of one of the OZY Genius Awards distributed by OZY, the news site.

Humure won for her innovative and compassionate 3-D printed adjustable prosthetic socket, which will be used by amputees. “This socket is much cheaper to produce on a 3-D printer,” Humure said. “It cost about $100.” Because of the low production costs, Humure expects her prosthetic socket to be affordable to amputees in developing countries.

Prosthetics now on the market are too expensive for many of them. Humure has a personal interest in prosthetics. After losing both her parents in Rwanda’s genocide, she and her six siblings were raised in an orphanage. At the age of 13, she developed cancer, which led to the amputation of her leg. She first came to the U.S. to get a prosthetic leg in 2004, after which she returned to Rwanda. Later she came back to the U.S. to study after receiving a scholarship to attend high school in Connecticut.

“I was motivated by seeing how much prosthetic limbs are really needed. Being an amputee, I know what is needed,” Humure said. A biology major who interned at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she was exposed to prosthetic research, Humure graduates this May and intends to spend the rest of the year refining the socket’s design. But she also has goals for the future.

“I want to help amputees in different developing countries, not just Rwanda,” she told me. “I want to visit different countries and see what people are already doing and how I can help.”But eventually, she sees herself going home.“I want to open a prosthetic clinic in Rwanda where amputees are rehabilitated and learn from each other.”

To read more, go to: OZY Genius Award Winner Designs 3-D Printed Prosthetic Socket

10 African “Tech for Good” Startups to Watch in 2017

(Photograph — AB2020 via venturesafrica.com)

article by Vicki Hearn via venturesafrica.com

Innovators across Africa are harnessing digital technology to develop new ways of tackling social and economic challenges. From the rise of Silicon Savannah to the launch of M-PESA, the continent has a burgeoning tech sector that is driving a social tech movement that puts people before profits. These inspirational projects are making a positive difference to people’s lives in their own communities and creating social change at a national level.

For the last four years, Nominet Trust has identified and celebrated 100 different socially-motivated startups from across the globe. In our 2016 NT100, we feature some extraordinary examples of how pioneers from across Africa are using tech for good to promote education equality, economic empowerment and access to medical care.

Education equality

1.  OneUni

In Kenya, a lack of physical space at universities and the prohibitive costs of attending can be barriers to often capable students pursuing degree programmes. Daystar University in Nairobi and California startup, OneUni, partnered up to tackle this and make university education accessible to more Kenyans. Together they created Africa’s first smartphone degree programme, Daystar Mobile, where all course materials are made available through an app. They now have plans to expand the model to other African countries to reach thousands of more students, aiming to make university education more accessible across the continent.

2. Tunapanda Institute

Another venture bolstering education in Kenya is Tunapanda Institute. Approximately one-third of Kenyan children do not enrol into a high school because of financial constraints, so brothers Jay and Mick Larson created a free, open source online training programme to help bridge this digital divide. Tunapanda Institute currently delivers three-month intensive learning courses in technology, design and business, giving students access to vital skills that can act as an alternative to traditional high school diplomas. At the institute’s HQ in Nairobi, specific workshops are also held to provide girls with skills in the STEM subjects, helping address the gender gap in these fields. To date, 100 people have graduated from the programme, of whom 85 percent are in meaningful employment as a result.

3. Well Told Story

After the disputed elections in Kenya in 2007, over 800 people were killed, leaving a generation of youths feeling disenfranchised. To help get to the heart of what young Kenyan’s wanted to talk about, Rob Burnet established Well Told Story, a research consultancy which is famous for creating Shujaaz, meaning ‘heroes’ in Sheng. Shujaaz is a free, international Emmy-winning comic book that now has a monthly circulation of 500,000 and a readership that Burnet estimates to be five million Kenyans aged between 10 and 25. The content is lovingly crafted by young people based in Well Told Story’s Nairobi office and offers readers tips on everything from planting maize to contraception, information about upcoming elections and careers.Enhancing daily living

4. Lumkani

In Cape Town, communities living in deprived areas are threatened by the devastation caused by house fires which can sweep through the neighbourhood. Lumkani, which means ‘beware’ in Xhosa, was created by a group of students horrified by the danger faced by less advantaged citizens in their city, to help save lives in the event of these fires. Lumkani transmits a signal to devices within a 20-metre radius so that neighbours are aware of potential danger and can mobilise help or evacuate. Since launching in 2014, Lumkani has been installed in 7,000 homes in Cape Town, and co-founders Francois Petousis and Samuel Ginsburg say that the device has already prevented the spread of what could have been five major fires.

5. Digital Matatus

Although 70 percent of Nairobi’s population rely on the matatus – 20,000 private vans which transport people around the capital – there’s very little information available on how to navigate this seemingly chaotic system. In 2011, researchers at MIT, Columbia University and the University of Nairobi, together with design agency Upshot, began a collaborative mapping project to make sense of the matatus system to support those travelling on it. By recruiting Kenyan students to ride the matatus and log journeys using mobile and GPS, by 2015 Digital Matatus had recorded almost 3,000 stops on more than 130 routes. Since its release, the city of Nairobi has adopted the map as the capital’s official transit guide and more than 5,000 people have downloaded it online.

Economic empowerment

6. Illuminum Greenhouse

Childhood friends Brian Bett and Taita Ng’etich, whose families are farmers, set out to explore better solutions to farming after their young tomato crop was destroyed by flooding. They developed a system using low-cost materials and advanced sensor technologies to monitor their crops to prevent this happening again. When neighbours started asking them to build their own greenhouses, they founded a new business: Illuminum Greenhouses. Each greenhouse is fitted with sensors that monitor temperature, humidity and soil moisture, alerting farmers to change the settings via text messages. To date, more than 750 Kenyan farmers are using Illuminum’s technology and the pair aspires to scale the innovation so it can be deployed all over Africa and Latin America.

To read full article, go to: 10 African ‘tech for good’ startups to watch in 2017 – Ventures Africa

Gregory Robinson Named Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry Gregory H. Robinson (photo via jsu.edu)

article via jbhe.com

Gregory H. Robinson, the University of Georgia Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Georgia, has been named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Founded more than 175 years ago, the Royal Society of Chemistry is the largest organization in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences.

The Royal Society of Chemistry partners with industry and academia, promotes collaboration and innovation, advises governments on policy and promotes the talent, information and ideas that lead to great advances in science.

Professor Robinson’s research focuses on the synthesis, structure, and stabilization of compounds containing multiple bonds between heavier main group elements. “To be named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry is a tremendous honor, and to now be associated with some of the world’s most notable chemists is equally humbling,” Professor Robinson said. “This international honor is a testament to the gifted students and creative colleagues that have been a part of our research team over the years.”

Professor Robinson is a graduate of Jacksonville State University in Alabama. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alabama.

Source: Gregory Robinson Named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry : The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

College Student Kaya Thomas Creates “We Read Too” Mobile Directory of 600 Books that Prioritize Diversity 

We Read Too app creator Kaya Thomas (photo via huffingtonpost.com)

article by Katherine Brooks via huffingtonpost.com

As a kid, Kaya Thomas enjoyed reading. “No matter how old I was, what I was going through, how I felt in any moment, a book was always a means of escape” she wrote in a blog post in 2015. “A way to dive into a new world and become a new character.”As a self-professed “nerdy black girl in high school,” Thomas’ love of books, and the escapism they afforded, only grew. She’d read three or four a week, seeking solace in their pages when she “felt very different than most of my peers.”

Something changed in those high school years, though. As a mature reader, she began to pay more attention to how the characters in her favorite books were described ― namely, how they were meant to look. “When I was a teenager I began to realize that a lot of the books I read didn’t have characters that looked like me,” she’s since admitted. “Realizing that made me feel invisible.”

So as a student at Dartmouth College, Thomas decided to do something about her sense of invisibility. Not only did she search the internet, compiling her own list of books written by authors of color that put characters of color in primary storylines, she learned to code so that she could share her database with other young readers. After taking part in a Black Girls Code hackathon, and learning the ins and outs of iOs during an internship, Thomas devised an iPhone app that functioned as a directory of 300 books showcasing characters of color.

“Young people should be able to see themselves represented in literature, so they know that their stories are important and that there are authors who […] celebrate their background and show the real lives of people like them,” Thomas wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. She cited books like Nalo Hopkinson’s The Chaos and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus as influential titles in her own life.

“When young people don’t see themselves represented positively in books, TV, movies and other forms of media, that erasure really harms self-image and how you perceive yourself as you grow up,” she added. Thomas’ app ― We Read Too ― launched in 2014 and has since grown to include over 600 relevant books. It’s also amassed over 15,000 iPhone users, who’ve downloaded the free app and suggested 1,600 other titles be added to the database.

And Thomas wants to meet their demands.Her skills as an iOS developer have grown throughout the course of her various internships and engagement with online development communities. She recently launched an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of updating her app, quickly surpassing her goal of raising $10,000. Now with a stretch goal of $25,000, she has a few more objectives in mind: hire someone to review the books users suggest and grow the database to include 1,000 titles, create an Android version of We Read Too and initiate a UI redesign, and create a website version of her directory.

To read more, go to: College Student Creates A Mobile Directory Of 600 Books That Prioritize Diversity | The Huffington Post