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

‘Hidden Figures’ Inspiration Katherine Johnson Will Deliver Hampton University Commencement Address in May

NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson (photo via essence.com)

article by Danielle Kwateng-Clark via essence.com

Hampton University is welcoming a living legend for their 147th Commencement this May. The historically Black university announced that Katherine G. Johnson, the physicist and mathematician who worked for NASA and was an inspiration behind “Hidden Figures,” would join them as their commencement speaker this year.

As an African-American woman, job options were limited —but she was eventually hired as one of several female mathematicians for the agency that would become NASA,” President Barack Obama said during her Presidential Medal of Freedom honor.

To read more, go to: Katherine Johnson Will Deliver Hampton University Commencement Address| Essence.com

‘Star Trek’ Icon Nichelle Nichols to Take Part in NASA Mission

“Star Trek” actressNichelle Nichols (photo via eurweb.com)

article by Ny Magee via eurweb.com

Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols revealed Monday during a Reddit AMA that she will be involved in an upcoming NASA mission. She will be “among the first non-essential personnel to experience NASA’s newest telescope: SOFIA,” MSN reports.

“In September, I’m traveling on a NASA SOFIA flight, a second generation Airborn Observatory, which I am honored to have been invited too,” Nichols told fans before her “Ask Me Anything” began. The flight isn’t a mission into space: SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) is built into a Boeing 747, which will take off from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California according to ABCNews.

SOFIA is a second-generation airborne observatory and a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The first generation model originally flew in 1977, and Nichols was a passenger on that plane too. “SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space. It’s an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible. I was on a similar flight, the first airborn observatory, back in 1977. It’s an amazing experience, you get a totally different perspective than from earth,” she wrote, adding, ”I do hope someone gets some great pictures.”

SOFIA was created to observe infrared energy in the universe, which enables it to study everything from star births to black holes, including nebulae, solar systems, comets, and asteroids, reports MSN.com.

Source: ‘Star Trek’ Icon Nichelle Nichols Going on NASA Mission | EURweb

‘Hidden Figures’ Inspires LEGO to Honor Women of NASA in New Playset

article via vibe.com

Because of Hidden Figures, the film about a group of African-American women who contributed to NASA’s space program in the 1960s, are hidden no more. To continue to honor the Women of NASA’s legacy and inspire other young women, Lego is launching a new toy set of mini-figures.

The collection, which was brought to life by Maia Weinstock, will include NASA trajectory expert Katherine Johnson, whom Taraji P. Henson played in the film, as well as MIT computer scientist Margaret HamiltonFortune reports. The mini-figures will also include Mae Jemison, first African American woman in space; Sally Ride, first American woman in space, and physicist Nancy Grace Roman. In addition to its many characters, the set will include mini versions of computer programming machines, and the historic Hubble Space telescope.

“We’re really excited to be able to introduce Maia’s Women of NASA set for its inspirational value as well as build and play experience,” a Lego representative said in an official statement. The toy company’s goal is that the new figure will inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM, technology, and engineering.

(image via notable.ca)

(image via notable.ca)

To read more, go to: http://www.vibe.com/2017/03/hidden-figures-lego-toy-set-nasa/

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: The Best New Films to Watch this February

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Movies to see this Black History Month (photo collage via theguardian.com)

article by Rebecca Carroll via theguardian.com

Fences

If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.

Fences is on nationwide release now

Get Out

I don’t go in for horror films at all – not even horror film parodies – but I also can’t think of a brighter, more innovative voice in film right now than Jordan Peele, one half of the masterful sketch comedy series Key and Peele, which he co-created with Keegan-Michael Key. And while the potentially great Keanu, co-written by Peele and Alex Rubin, was a disappointing failure, Get Out, which Peele both wrote and directed, looks legitimately genius. The premise is a pretty straightforward Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner setup – rich white girlfriend brings her smart, learned black boyfriend upstate for a weekend to meet the parents – what could go wrong? It’ll be awkward, parents will remark more than once on how articulate the black boyfriend is, lecture them both on how hard it will be to maintain an interracial relationship in this day and age, and then finally concede that love is all that matters. Or will it?

Get Out will be in theaters February 24

Hidden Figures

In America, when it comes to the mainstream celebration of black historical figures, we primarily see the spotlight shined on our athletes, entertainers and a handful of activists who generally get depoliticized posthumously. Seldom do we hear about engineers, innovators and mathematicians, much less our black women in those positions. It’s thrilling and really quite long overdue for a film like Hidden Figures, which tells the story of “colored computers” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and played a vital role in getting John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space. As Katherine Johnson, Taraji P. Henson is on career-best form – pushing her glasses up on her nose, hustling to the coloreds bathroom carrying a stack of data research, doing mathematical equations on a chalkboard – creating a truly revelatory performance. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monáe as Mary are icing on the cake. An added bonus comes in the form of Pharrell Williams, who is a producer on the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack that give the movie a beautiful sense of joy.

Hidden Figures is in nationwide release now

I Am Not Your Negro

The thing about James Baldwin, beyond his utter brilliance and undeniable prescience as a writer and public intellectual, is that he was like the blackest man who ever lived. And he wore it like a badge of honor. In the newly Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian-born film-maker Raoul Peck mines Baldwin’s unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to create an intellectual and visual mosaic that somehow captures Baldwin’s own very personal and stubborn sense of blackness. It hits hard, and the film will make you long for the leadership and integrity of Evers, King and Malcolm in these increasingly divisive times. But it will also, if only temporarily, let you sit in the glory that is James Baldwin’s company.

I Am Not Your Negro is out on Friday

To read full article, go to: The best new releases to watch during Black History Month | Film | The Guardian

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’

Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams (photo via essence.com)

article by Paula Rogo via essence.com

Taking a cue from Octavia Spencer, both Taraji P. Henson and Pharrell Williams have bought out screenings of Hidden Figures at movie theaters in Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Texas and Washington D.C. on Sunday.  Spencer paid for a free screening of the critically-acclaimed film earlier this month, saying that her own mother would not have been able to afford to take her and her siblings.

Henson, who plays the lead role as NASA physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson, was inspired to do the same in Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course, her hometown of Washington D.C. On Instagram, she said she was moved by Spencer and “similar actions taken by so many of YOU across the country.” Anonymous donors have been buying out whole screenings.

To see full article, go to: Taraji and Pharrell Offer Multiple Free Screenings Of ‘Hidden Figures’ | Essence.com

Astronaut Jeanette Epps to be NASA’s 1st African-American Crew Member on International Space Station

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps (photo via mashable.com)

article by Miriam Kramer via mashable.com

NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps is set to become the first African-American crewmember on the International Space Station when she flies to space next year, the space agency announced Wednesday.

Epps’ months-long trip should begin in 2018, and it will mark the first time she has traveled to orbit, following in the footsteps of the women who inspired her to become an astronaut.  “It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters’ grades and he said, ‘You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts,'” Epps said in a NASA video interview.

“And this was at the time that Sally Ride [the first American woman to fly in space] and a group of women were selected to become astronauts — the first time in history. So, he made that comment and I said, ‘Wow, that would be so cool.'”   While other African-American astronauts have flown to the Space Station for brief stays during the outpost’s construction, Epps will be the first African-American crewmember to live and work on the station for an extended period of time.

Robert Curbeam, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Al Drew, Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher, along with their space shuttle crewmates, helped to complete the space station during its first 11 years,” space historian Robert Pearlman, who runs the website collectSPACE.com, told Mashable.

Melvin actually encouraged Epps to apply to become an astronaut when the space agency put out a call for their 2009 class, Epps said. And that encouragement paid off. Epps was selected as one of 14 astronaut candidates in NASA’s 2009 class. NASA received 3,500 astronaut applications that year. Her astronaut selection wasn’t the first time she worked with the space agency, however. Epps was a NASA fellow while at the University of Maryland for graduate school in aerospace engineering and then worked in a lab at Ford Motor Company for more than two years, according to the space agency.

From there, Epps’ path to becoming an astronaut takes a decidedly atypical turn. Most astronauts come to the Astronaut Corps either through training in science or as a military officer, but after Ford, Epps spent more than seven years at the Central Intelligence Agency as a technical intelligence officer.”I did a lot of scientific stuff, but I also did a lot of operational stuff,” Epps said. “We worked in non-proliferation issues, which was great. It’s reverse engineering at its best.” Epps also volunteered to go to Iraq with the CIA for four months to help search for weapons of mass destruction.

To read full article, go to: NASA’s first African-American Space Station crewmember is your new role model