Nas is partnering up with General Assembly to sponsor scholarships for African-American and Latino students, according to reports.
General Assembly, a vocational school for engineering and programming in New York City, is opening the “Opportunity Fund” to help bring diversity into technology. Microsoft, Google and Hirepurpose will also provide monies for the project. Each company will sponsor different populations. While Nas will give scholarships to African-Americans and Latinos, Microsoft and Hirepurpose will provide funding for veterans and Google will give scholarships to women.“This is the start of what hopefully will be a contribution to what will be a more diverse and accessible community worldwide,” General Assembly CEO Jake Schwartz told the Observer.
This is not the first time Nas has had his name attached to an educational opportunity – in 2013 Harvard University created the Nasir Jones Fellowship in his honor. It’s wonderful that he is continuing to foster higher education, this time in his hometown.
original article by Tanay Hudson via allhiphop.com; additions by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Google is attempting to make cell phones affordable for people living in six African countries. Google announced the “Hot 2″ phone, which will cost only $88, would be sold in stores in Nigeria and offered by online retailer Jumia in five other countries: Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Morocco.
Although the phones being released in Africa will be ‘bare minimum’ when it comes to technology in them, the company hopes that it will be a start pointing for getting more people online.
Google, Facebook and other Internet companies are trying to get more people online in places like Africa so they can expand their audiences and eventually sell more digital advertising.
As part of that effort, Google already has built a fiber-optic network to provide faster Internet access in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
Kunbi Tinuoye, former broadcast journalist and correspondent for the BBC, MSNBC and TheGrio.com, and current on-air contributor to Arise News’ business show Xchange, has recently launched UrbanGeekz.com, a groundbreaking digital news platform dedicated to African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities in technology, science and business. The site offers reviews, interviews, commentary, and original video on startups, geek gadgets, social media, scientific advancements, entrepreneurship and insight into Silicon Valley and the global technology industry. The cutting-edge online publication also provides authoritative lifestyle and entertainment content.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, UrbanGeekz.com, live only since February 9th of this year, has already partnered with telecom giant AT&T and Black Enterprise Magazine to provide content to and about the underserved communities in the tech space. The website also has created a much-needed outlet for dialogue on the most pressing and relevant issues in STEM-related fields: conversations surrounding the preparedness of students to pursue STEM careers, the lack of diversity in the STEM workforce and challenges facing minorities in the tech start-up scene.
Tinuoye, whose parents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Nigeria, was born, raised and educated in London. She graduated from Cambridge University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social and Political Sciences and later received a post-graduate diploma in print journalism. She is also an NCTJ qualified UK professional journalist.
Tinuoye began her career writing for the prestigious London newspaper, the Evening Standard. After stints there and with the BBC, she immigrated to the United States, settling in Atlanta and working for TheGrio.com and MSNBC as a journalist and on-air contributor.
Good Black News recently caught up with Tinuoye and got a chance to talk to this ambitious and intelligent entrepreneur about her journey, why she started UrbanGeekz, and her visions for African-Americans in tech in the near future:
Good Black News: What initially attracted you to journalism?
Kunbi Tinuoye: I’m a communicator – that’s just the core of my personality – I’m a people person. I’ve worked across most platforms, from television to print journalism. I enjoy every aspect of the media industry.
Which aspect of journalism do you like the most?
I started as a writer. Knowing how to write and tell a story is really the core. I say to aspiring journalists, “Make sure you learn how to write,” because once you can put together a well-crafted sentence and get to the crux of a story, then you’ve the ability to be a good journalist.
What made you decide to leave the United Kingdom for the United States?
Me and my husband came on holiday to Atlanta about seven years ago and we basically fell in love with the States. One of my husband’s friends relocated here and was living a comfortable life. Seeing how black professionals live in America, particularly in Atlanta, where you have the ability to work your way up the corporate ladder… I think it was that, the lifestyle and I thought there would be more opportunities for me here.
Do you prefer it here in America?
I absolutely love Atlanta. I feel like I found home. It feels like where I’m meant to be.
Do you have a different perspective on black issues in America being from a different country?
I probably do have a different perspective. For me, coming as an immigrant I feel that, and maybe specifically to Atlanta, which I think is a great place for black professionals, for me there seems to be a phenomenal amount of opportunity, but that’s from my perspective. I know race is a huge issue in America, I’m very aware of that – in London there’s racism as well – maybe at a slightly different level, but of course I’m aware of injustice and all of the issues going on, but at the same time I see America as the land of opportunity – that’s my perspective.
Your experience has spanned three countries – Nigeria through your parents, England and the United States. How do you identify?
K: What can I say… being Nigerian is very important to me, so I would identify as a British Nigerian. I’ve been in the States four years, and now it’s like home.
Why did you start UrbanGeekz?
I was at the Grio for close to four years and it was a phenomenal job. But I felt there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t a minority-led news platform tackling issues related to STEM and the technology industry, which as you know is an important space that’s going to become even more significant in the coming years. The other reason that sparked me to launch UrbanGeekz was when the big tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, released their diversity stats and showed dismal numbers of African-Americans and women. I think that and the combination of just thinking we’re not covering these stories was the impetus.
Who do you consider your competition in the digital tech space?
I’ve got a huge vision for UrbanGeekz. I want the platform to compete with the big players like TechCrunch and the African-American and even the Latino digital news outlets as well. They aren’t my competition now because we’ve just started, but I hope to be at the same level further down the line.
What do you see as the near future for blacks and people of color in tech and science?
There’s been so much conversation about this right now. It’s a hot topic. Some of the big firms, including Intel and Apple,have made major announcements within the last year, [earmarking] money for underserved minorities and women. So I feel and I hope that people of color – and I say “people of color” because UrbanGeekz is a multi-cultural website – African-Americans of course, but I do want to include Latino market at some point and even Africans and Afro-Latinos as well – my hope is that particularly with the current discussion, people of color will become more and more involved in STEM and the tech space. Technology is important and when you look at the high-demand jobs of the future, many require STEM or tech skills. Underserved minorities and women need to have this skill set to level the playing field.
Are East Indians and Asians thought of as “people of color” in tech?
They are doing much better in tech. UrbanGeekz is for underrepresented communities in the technology industry.
Do you think there is enough awareness around disparity in the tech industry?
Before those diversity statistics were publicly released there wasn’t too much focus on the giant tech companies. But people like Reverend Jesse Jackson have been vocal and continued to put the spotlight on the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley. Now the issue is a hot topic. It’s also about what kind of skills and jobs that will be in demand in the future. STEM skills are vital for career progression and the continued growth of the U.S. economy. These companies are the new Fortune 500 companies, the new GM [General Motors] or U.S. Steel.
Further down the line, Tinuoye and UrbanGeekz will be launching the UrbanGeekz 100, an annual list of underrepresented minorities making strides in science and technology. The handpicked list will culminate with an on-site exclusive awards gala honoring these dynamic leaders and influencers of color who have achieved success in their prospective industries.
The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant Google is trying to get more women and minorities into technology with an ambitious $150 million plan. Google told CNNMoney half that money will go to outside organizations and communities, while the other half will be used internally to make Google more inclusive.
In a blog post this week, VP of People Operations Nancy Lee laid out the company’s strategy for 2015. It follows earlier public efforts by Google (GOOG) to increase diversity, including sending Google engineers to historically black universities and and working with Disney (DIS) to improve depictions of girls in computer science. In 2014, the company put $114 million toward diversity programs.
The company is also expanding where it looks for fresh talent by recruiting at a wider variety of colleges. The lack of diversity in tech goes deeper than just the HR department. As was highlighted in the Ellen Pao gender discrimination trial, company culture is also key to keeping and encouraging a diverse workforce. Google is offering more internal training and workshops on unconscious bias, and employees can use part of their time to work on diversity initiatives.
It’s also looking at the root of the problem, expanding computer science education for kids and pushing to get under-served communities online.
The company still has a lot of work to do. According to the diversity report it released last year, only 17% of its tech workers are female, 1% of its tech workforce is black and 2% are Hispanic. In the blog post, Lee said Google plans to release 2015 diversity numbers soon.
In March, Google executive Eric Schmidt was called out during a panel on diversity at SXSW for repeatedly interrupting Megan Smith, the chief technology officer of the U.S. and a former Googler. The audience member who pointed it out was Judith Williams, the manager of Google’s global diversity and talent programs.
It’s not the only company putting money into diversity. Apple has donated $50 million to organizations that will help more minorities and women get into tech. Intel is sinking $300 million into a program that expands STEM education to more diverse students.
The graduation ceremony started with a freedom chant led by fellow Angie Rollins, a member of the BYP100. The 40 plus people in attendance joined in, clapping and repeating the chorus: “What side are you on my people?/What side are you on?” It grounded the event in this political moment, referencing Michael Brown and Ferguson in the chant as they began. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this was a graduation for community organizers, or radical political educators. Instead, it was a graduation for 11 newly trained coders, finishing the first-ever Code for Progress (CFP) fellowship. They all spent the last four months in an intensive coding bootcamp in Washington, D.C., learning from instructor Aliya Rahman the basics of a handful of different coding languages, with the hopes of beginning their careers in technology.
The graduation was held at Google’s downtown Washington, D.C., offices, a fact that felt both fitting and somewhat ironic given recent conversations stirred up this summer with the release of Google’s, Apple, LinkedIn and Yahoo’s self-reported diversity statistics. Unlikely to be a surprise to anyone working within the industry, the stats show abysmal representation for non-Asian people of color overall, and a poor showing for women as well. So for the 11 fellows, seven of whom are women of color, they are unlikely to find many peers in their future places of employment. The freedom chant, while distinctly out of place at Google, was actually quite fitting for the mission of CFP—its goal is to bring politically minded organizers into the tech industry.
The fellowship is a direct response to the lack of diversity in the tech field, and it also tries to address a root cause of these disparities: access to computer science education. “Folks who are in communities of color have a higher probability of going to a school that doesn’t teach computer science,” says Rahman. “Seven kids took the advanced placement computer science exam in Washington, D.C., [last year], compared to hundreds in Maryland and Virginia.”
Marques Brownlee is just 20 years old, but there’s arguably no one better on the internet when it comes to explaining new technologies to the average consumer. Even former Google VP Vic Gundotra called him “the best technology reviewer on the planet right now.”
YouTubers have taken notice of the young man: Brownlee’s YouTube channel “MKBHD” has more than 1.5 million subscribers and nearly 130 million total views on his 640-plus videos.
Still, he’s no overnight success: Brownlee has been working tirelessly for more than five years, honing his craft by constantly producing and self-critiquing his videos to make the next ones easier to both make and watch.
But despite all of the work involved, “MKBHD” is, was, and will always be a solo effort.
“When I first started making the videos, I didn’t tell anyone about it,” he said in an interview with Business Insider. “Not [my family], not anyone. But after a while it was something that was pretty obvious, since I was making a whole bunch of videos … I just didn’t necessarily feel like telling people about what I was researching.”
Brownlee, a senior at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, said he always had a love for technology. His dad works in technology — information systems and programming, specifically — but Brownlee’s interests were more centered on consumer electronics, starting with computers and some of the old camcorders his parents had around. He said his first computer was a Dell desktop with a “big old 15-inch CRT monitor.”
“It was kind of a background hobby; I didn’t have a reason to tell anyone when I first started making the videos,” he said.
When he entered high school, Brownlee said, he wanted to buy a laptop for school, so he researched various computers and watched tutorials on “how to do cool tricks and customizations.” And simply by watching others’ tutorials, Brownlee felt encouraged to make some tutorials of his own with some simple screencasting software.
Still, it would take a while to build an audience.
“It was super slow. The first few videos, there were no comments and no views,” he told BI. “But eventually, once someone would comment on the video, they asked about other things I could share.”
Brownlee started to gain a small following by answering users’ questions with his own handmade videos. By the time he reached his 100th video, he had only 78 subscribers. But Brownlee’s operation was not what it is today, and still very much a work in progress.
“Back then, it was all one take,” he said. “So when I’d make a video, I’d open the software, press record, talk two or three minutes to explain whatever I needed to explain, and I’d just stop and upload it to YouTube. That was it.
“I could make multiple videos in a day, but now, the videos are much more elaborate.”
Brownlee currently produces several different types of videos. He’s got his reviews, explainers, and impressions, but he’ll also throw in some special features and “advanced projects.” But with every video, a great deal of research is involved before Brownlee ever starts filming.
To Google’s credit, you can opt out — if you know where to look. Head over to the Shared Endorsements page, sign in with your Google account and make sure the option at the bottom is not checked. Still, it’s a reminder where Google’s focus is. It’s keeping track of what you do so it can use that information in advertising. And don’t forget that your information is one subpoena away from ending up in a government database.
But it’s not like there’s a better alternative for search, right? Bing and Yahoo do the same thing. That’s true, but those aren’t the only alternative search sites around. Here are some that do the job and take your privacy seriously. Take a look at DuckDuckGo. Though it’s similar to Google, it doesn’t collect any information about you when you search. It matches Google Search in features and performance with a similar simple layout. Its “Goodies” features offer geographic search, calculators and more. You could literally spend hours checking out DuckDuckGo’s cool features.
Maybe there’s just one feature about Google’s search you really can’t live without, though. In most cases, you can find search sites tailored to that feature. Wolfram Alpha, for example, runs circles around Google when it comes to research and calculations. Just type in a question and it can usually figure out what you mean. You can even upload images to get more information about them.
In a bid to shore up its mobile and Web mapping infrastructure, Apple has confirmed a purchase of Nigerian entrepreneur Chinedu Echeruo‘s (pictured) HopStop.com application. With Google buying the Israel-based Waze map application for a reported $1.1 billion, it has been rumored that HopStop’s acquisition was worth a similar amount. But thus far, Apple has not revealed the terms of the deal.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal’s “All Things Digital” blog, HopStop empowers Apple’s map program by providing access to a portion of the mapping landscape it had yet to cover: mass transit directions. The move has been seen by many analysts as the tech-giant’s largest push to compete with the industry-leading Google Maps service. In fact, Google has been providing map data to Apple since 2007.
As an entrepreneur, Echeruo has founded both HopStop and Tripology, after stints working as an analyst for J.P. Morgan Chase. Echeruo also made his mark in the hedge fund world, working for AM Investment Partners for a time. Echeruo grew up in Eastern Nigeria and was a student at Kings College in Lagos. He later came to the States to attend Syracuse University and Harvard Business School before founding his businesses.
This is huge, potentially. Along with a flurry of other announcements made on Wednesday at Google I/O, Google’s annual developers’ conference, the company announced that it’s integrating Google Wallet with Gmail, meaning Gmail account holders will soon be able to send money via email.
The amazing thing about this is how easy it is. As you can see in the YouTube video below, all you do is hit a “$” symbol to attach money to an email — just like you would attach any other file.
Google Product Manager Travis Green wrote in a blog post that this feature will be rolled out “over the coming months to all U.S. Gmail users over 18 years old.” You can also get early access if a friend — perhaps who works at Google — already has the feature and sends money to you.
This could pose a threat to e-commerce startups like Venmo, which allows you to send someone payments through an app for iPhones or Android phones. “Holy startup killer,” said Artur Adib, a senior engineer at Twitter.
Jeff Peters, a new media and marketing consultant, wrote in a tweet about the news, “This could be big…if (when) people trust it.”
Tech executive Ray Nolan went even further, declaring, “eCommerce just changed.”
Search engine giant Google honors MLK Day with Martin Luther King Jr.’s image on its default page. To remember his life, contributions and the future he envisions, Google has a yearly Google Doodle for the day. Today, the Doodle is in shades of blue, green and yellow. With Dr. King’s face as one of the “O”s in the Google logo.
Google has had a Martin Luther King, Jr. logo since 2003, skipping some years but being consistent with the logo since 2006. To see all the past Google Doodles for Martin Luther King Day, see The Google Doodle directory.