Newark’s Office of Technology will present a live showcase of this year’s Hackathon for Women’s Safety, where submissions from participants will be revealed and judged, and a competition winner announced.
Get in there: Fownders, the tech startup accelerator that launched in Newark this past summer, is building its second cohort now, with applications open through Friday, January 13.
Today, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. announced the winner of the 2016 Congressional App Challenge for high school students in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District.
Newark Venture Partner Labs held its demo day for its inaugural accelerator class on Wednesday at the Prudential Center, presenting a professional cohort that gave polished presentations to an enthusiastic audience.
Gerard Adams made his first million by age 24, cofounded Elite Daily at 27, sold it to Daily Mail at 30, made Business Insider’s list of top entrepreneurs under 35 and became a Silicon Valley star along the way.
Now the 31-year-old entrepreneur has built a startup accelerator in Newark in an effort to help create more successes like himself. Meet Fownders Newark. (And no, it’s not located downtown.)
On Saturday, March 26th, a number of computer programmers, graphic designers, community activists, and other community members are scheduled to meet at Newark City Hall for an all-day, hands-on session meant to apply the art of code to serious issues that affect Newark youth.
During HackNewark, programmers will get access to relevant data in order to produce visualizations, analytics and apps that can facilitate solutions to a specific set of local problems.
The “client” for Saturday’s civic hackathon will be my My Brother’s Keeper Newark, the local answer to President Barack Obama’s 2014 My Brother’s Keeper Challenge, the goal of which is to bring business and nonprofit resources together to eliminate both the opportunity and achievement gaps for boys and young men of color.
William Simpson, Director of My Brother’s Keeper Newark, will present three challenges at the start of the day: ensuring all youth graduate from high school; ensuring all youth complete post-secondary education or training; and ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime. Those in attendance will then form cross-functional teams that, ideally, include a mix of coders, designers, organizers, activists, and others, then formulate a project idea related to one or more of the challenges, and use the data provided to create visualizations, analytics, and apps that represent a step towards solving those challenges. They’ll do this all over the course of a couple hours.
The teams will then pitch their projects before a panel of judges, who will pick the winner.
The goal of a hackathon is to use a mix of specific objectives, cross-functional teams (technical expertise and knowledge of the issue at hand are ideal), and tight time frames to quickly create useful prototypes of technologies that can solve specific problems, large and small.
The GroupMe chat service now owned by Microsoft, the Facebook “Like” button and timeline, and other successful apps have emerged from hackathon sessions. Many technology companies host internal hackathons that produce features for other products. The hope for HackNewark is that the session points the way to a piece of civic technology that can produce positive outcomes for the city.
Stay tuned to learn more about the ideas that emerge from HackNewark.
Hack Newark takes place Saturday, March 26th at Newark City Hall, 920 Broad Street, from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. To attend, RSVP here.
Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. today announced the winners of the 2015 Congressional App Challenge for high school students in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District. Josua Soto-Vasquez, Gianfranco Cervantes, and Yaxenis Ramos of North 13th Street Tech in Newark were named the winners for their app “Social MeatUp,” a social app for foodies that enables them to meet and share their passions for food.
“The Congressional App Challenge showcases the innovation and technical skills of New Jersey students, and I congratulate Josua, Gianfranco, and Yaxenis on winning this year’s competition,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “Their success reminds us that we must continue to invest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to ensure that young people can learn, create, build, and pursue innovative careers that are essential to the economic future of our nation.”
The Congressional App Challenge is an annual competition intended to highlight the value of computer science and STEM education by encouraging U.S. high school students to learn how to code by creating their own applications. Entries to the competition in New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District were judged by a panel of local experts on several criteria, including quality of the idea, implementation of the idea, and demonstrated excellence of coding and programming skills.
As a winning app in the contest, “Social MeatUp” will be displayed on the Congressional App Challenge website and on a digital display in the U.S. Capitol Building for the next year.
Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. announced that New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District will participate in the 2015 Congressional App Challenge (CAC), a nationwide event that gives high school students an opportunity to build software applications, or apps, for mobile, tablet, or computer devices on a platform of their choice.
“This competition showcases the innovation and technical skills of our students, the tech leaders of tomorrow,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “I encourage students to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to demonstrate and hone their skills in a competitive but fun competition designed to enhance youth engagement in STEM.”
The Challenge submission period will run until January 15, 2016. Winners will be selected by a panel of local judges, and honored by the Congressman. Their apps will be featured on a display in the Capitol building.
The CAC was created because Congress recognized that STEM skills are essential for economic growth and innovation, and that the U.S. has been falling behind on these fronts. To maintain American competitiveness, it is crucial that the United States invests in our youth now, and helps them acquire these necessary STEM-based skills. The CAC highlights and encourages students to pursue those skills.
For more information, students should visit the official Congressional App Challenge website at http://www.congressionalappchallenge.us/ or contact Isabel Cruz at (973)-645-3213 orIsabel.Cruz@mail.house.gov. You can also visit https://www.challenge.gov/challenge/congressional-app-challenge-nj-10-rep-payne-jr/. Also see full judging criteria and application instructions below.
Quality of the Idea
How creative is the app? How original is it? Does the app address a problem? If so, how creative is the solution?
Implementation of the Idea
Did the student consider the user experience? Did the student give thought to the app design?
Demonstrated Excellence of Coding and Programming Skills
Did the student display understanding of the tools they were using? Did the student demonstrate they had learned about how to code?
Summary of How to Enter:
- Check your eligibility
- Register on Challenge.gov
- Make sure you’re on the right challenge page
- Fill out this form with your contact information
- CREATE YOUR APP!
- Submit your app and a demonstration video explaining what it does
- Fill out the exit questionnaire.
Step 1: Check Your Eligibility
To be eligible to participate in the Congressional App Challenge, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- You must reside or attend school in a district with a participating Representative.
- You must be 13 years of age by or on November 9, 2015.
- You must be eligible to attend high school in the district in which you’re competing. (If you attend school in a different district than the one in which you reside, you may compete in either district, but you may only submit an app in one district.)
- If you are competing in a team: at least two of the students in your team must reside or attend high school in the district in which you are competing.
Step 2: Register on Challenge.gov
Challenge.gov is the platform that hosts our app submissions. Though you can see all the challenges that are posted on Challenge.gov without registering, you must actually register in order to submit your own app. The registration process should only take 2 or 3 minutes.
Step 3: Make sure you’re on the right District’s Challenge page
Every Member of Congress has their own unique Challenge page, and you need to make sure to find the correct one. You can double-check what district you live in, here.
Once you’ve registered on Challenge.gov, you can search for your District’s Challenge in the search bar on the top right of the website window. Make sure you’re on the correct page!
Step 4: Submit Contact Information
Please fill out this form with your name and contact information. The Internet Education Foundation will use this information to make sure that you are eligible and that you are competing in the correct District. It should take no more than 2 minutes.
Step 5: CREATE!
Once you’re all signed up, you can move ahead with creating your app!
You must also create a 1-4 minute Demonstration Video, outlining:
- What your app does;
- What tools you used to create your app; and
- How your app works;
Please note that your entry may be judged in its entirety based on this video. It is important to demonstrate the scope and quality of your application in this video. The video should be no more than four minutes in length.
Step 6: Submit Your App and Demonstration Video
Once your app is done, you can submit it on your district’s page on challenge.gov. You can submit your app any time from November 9th, 2015 until midnight EST, January 15, 2016.
Step 7: Fill out the exit form on CongressionalAppChallenge.US
After you’ve submitted your app on challenge.gov, we will email you a final questionnaire. You must fill out this questionnaire for your app to be evaluated; it’s the final step required for your submission to be complete.
Above: A Tech Cocktail mixer and pitch night in Washington, D.C. Might Newark Venture Partners become a center of gravity for Newark tech? Photo credit: Tech Cocktail
Earlier this summer, key stakeholders held a high-profile press conference to announce Newark Venture Partners (NVP), a $50 million social impact venture fund to be launched in Newark at One Washington Place, a few floors down from the headquarters of Audible, one of NVP’s marquee supporters.
Although fanfare quieted sharply in the days after July’s press conference, the announcement managed to generate lots of meaningful – if much quieter – activity and interest throughout the summer said Newark Venture Partners’ Director of Accelerator Operations, Dimitris Kouvaros.
“So far everything has been a go,” said Kouvaros. “We have a 25,000 square foot space that’s been built out. That’s going to be opening sometime in October,” adding that he was “super excited” to move the first cohort of startup firms into the space.
He added that applications have been rolling in steadily since the announcement — a trend Kouvaros expects to accelerate now that the bulk of summer is behind us.
“We’ve gotten well over 100 applicants with minimal marketing,” he said. “A lot of the folks have been New Jersey-based, but there’s also interest from New York and Boston, and there were even a couple [applicants] from San Francisco and the West Coast. I’m glad that Newark is attracting a good mix of everyone who sees the value in this opportunity.”
The startups that have applied have been mixed in terms of focus, and have included location-based hardware, social media platforms, and advertising technology companies, to name a few. The fund encourages a diversity of early-stage companies to apply, so long as they are technology-based and have a social impact component, Kouvaros said. Because of the broad base of sectors represented in the group of stakeholders partnering on the fund, there will be plenty of potential areas of collaboration with NVP’s partners for its resident entrepreneurs to take advantage of.
But perhaps what’s most exciting for Newark’s broader interests is what NVP might prove about the draw of Newark’s infrastructure for new business in general, and startups in particular.
It’s become common for cities and metropolitan areas to plan “tech corridors” and “tech hubs” — investments in space, education, and incentives for attracting and incubating technology companies as a way of both stimulating business and attracting and retaining talent. In this endeavor, Newark has something the vast majority of other cities don’t: a real competitive advantage in terms of endemic technical infrastructure.
“Don Katz said it on CNBC — we have the fastest internet in the world,” said Kouvaros.
That’s because of the surplus of unused fiber infrastructure located in Newark. That infrastructural wealth resulted from a collision of variables, most notably our location at the crossroads of the Northeast region, and a high concentration of utility companies located here that built an excess of fiber optic infrastructure to support their operations. It’s an advantage decades in the making — one that other cities simply can’t copy.
And Newark’s attractiveness for startup companies doesn’t end there. “We also have transportation proximity to a major media center, office rent prices are so much cheaper than New York, and it’s a college town,” Kouvaros said. “There’s so much to offer here.”
In addition to the pending announcement about which companies will comprise the first class of startups to join NVP, Kouvaros said the broader community can also look forward to engagement opportunities with the venture fund. He said he and his team will develop those ideas organically as the space opens up and firms start to fill it.
“I can see free events for the tech community and the broader community, and also General Assembly-style beginning and intermediate skills classes,” Kouvaros said, referring to the technology education company. “We’ll have to think more about exactly what we do once the space opens up. But yes, that is definitely in my pipeline to do.”