December 2016

Year in Review: 2016 in Civic Tech

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New England, we love you. This year, we explored civic tech head on with our local communities, driving change one person at a time and expanding our team beyond belief. As we approach our tenth year in our Cambridge offices at the New England R&D Center (NERD), we’d like to thank everyone who has helped us make an impact over the past year.

A look back at an amazing year on the Microsoft New England Blog:

February

Milton IrvingVoices Of Change — Bringing Everyone Into the Conversation
Milton Irving, Executive Director, Timothy Smith Network

Diversity and inclusion are critical underpinnings to our evolving culture at Microsoft and powerful bridges to the marketplace. The Timothy Smith Network provides that opportunity — and not only through the deployment of technology, but through the deployment of the services and the programs to leverage technology within the community.

March

LourdesVoices of Change — Transforming Communities Through Innovation
Lourdes German

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we were honored to celebrate women in our community who are carrying out the mission of civic engagement, leadership and empowering other women. One of those leaders in Lourdes German, the founder and director of the Civic Innovation Project, which began with a simple vision that endeavored to raise awareness of civic innovations that were transforming communities by presenting stories from leaders, citizens, academic and private sector stakeholders using creativity and civic technology to solve the most vexing problems facing communities.

Bringing Massachusetts History to the Digital Sphere

The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is a staple to our city’s relationship with its strong history. We partnered with MHS for its 225th Anniversary exhibit, “The Private Jefferson,” showcasing the largest collection of personal paper and drawing by Thomas Jefferson. MHS wanted to make this story accessible to everyone — and we were honored to use Microsoft technology to make that happen.

April

Opti_OnAzure_illustrationStormwater Made Sustainable – Opti Prepares Us for Tomorrow’s Storms
OptiRTC

Opti products address stormwater management in a completely modern way. By combining lightweight IoT hardware with a platform natively built on Microsoft Azure, Opti is able to predictively, autonomously, and securely control stormwater facilities based on the forecasted rainfall.

May

Lawrence-Brown (2)Enabling Youth Employment: A Conversation with Lawrence Brown
Lawrence Brown, computer technician and web developer at Resilient Coders

There’s great importance in delivering employable skills (management, leadership, and coding, for example) to our local youth to drive the economy and uplift our communities. And we know that our youth know the struggle of employment best. We showcased stories of those who’ve landed in tech fields. Meet Lawrence Brown, a 26-year-old Boston resident who attended Newton schools through the Metco program and is now a computer technician and web developer at Resilient Coders.

July

Girls Who Code Visit Microsoft NERD Center for Mentoring Event
Charis Loveland, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning

For the second year in a row, Microsoft hosted 20 girls last summer at the Microsoft Cambridge campus to teach coding in partnership with the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. Through the mentoring program, Girls Who Code aims to provide girls with the invaluable opportunity to interact with strong, powerful and exemplary female role models.

Using Power BI to Track Gentrification
Aaron Myran, Microsoft New England Civic Tech Fellow

Aaron Myran, a Microsoft Civic Technology fellow, is interested in how public data and APIs can be unlocked, visualized and shared to facilitate civic engagement and policy decisions. He created a dashboard using Microsoft’s Power BI that visualizes the change in price per square foot for the rental market in Boston over time to address gentrification — a difficult public policy challenge.

WP_20160715_13_01_59_Pro“Now, How Can You Make It Better?” — Girls Who Code Empowering #WomenInTech
Jasmine Hyppolite

To Jasmine Hyppolite, a senior in high school from Providence, Rhode Island, #GirlsCan means there is nothing girls can’t do. She told us about her sophomore year of high school, when the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani herself, came to her school and introduced her to the program.

November

City to City: Igniting Best Practices from Boston to Austin
Cathy Wissink

Microsoft’s Cathy Wissink flew to Austin, where she had the chance to join the Boston Chamber’s “City to City” trip. She recapped her experience, and took away, among other things, that public-private partnerships matter now more than ever.

Students at AMSA Charter School Delve Into Complex Cybersecurity Issues
Michael Impink, Senior Manager at Microsoft Corporation

The Advanced Math and Science Academy (AMSA) Charter School in Marlborough, Mass. exemplifies the value of learning computer science from a young age. Michael Impink, Senior Manager at Microsoft Corporation, had the opportunity to lead a discussion with juniors and seniors regarding current topics in cybersecurity. These high school students discussed topics that are complex even for most graduate students.

December

wfin_371__dsc9929Coding Outside the Classroom — Resilient Coders’ David Delmar on Making Change

Resilient Coders — a nonprofit based out of the CIC in Boston that teaches underserved, at-risk, and super smart young people to code — is a program that is actually making change. The program takes kids from diverse backgrounds, teaches them to code, and gives them opportunities to work in tech — opportunities that they may not have otherwise.

Thank you to all who joined us in sharing the important stories that shape our community. Let’s work together for an incredible 2017.

Looking Back at Computer Science Education Week 2016

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Last week, we joined a revolution as Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) launched worldwide, inspiring students to incorporate CS education into their daily lives. We celebrated by sharing stories like David Delmar’s Resilient Coders, uplifting others through the power of education, and by participating in Hour of Code events throughout the New England area.

Meanwhile, our community engaged on the same level, hosting Hour of Code events at Boston Public Schools and beyond. We’re thrilled to see our neighbors committed to the future of education, honoring the importance of computer science for all.

A look at local celebrations of CSEdWeek:

Find out more about #hourofcode here: hourofcode.com/us.

Coding Outside the Classroom — Resilient Coders’ David Delmar on Making Change

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Resilient Coders founder David Delmar (right) with alumni Brian at the MassTLC Awards.

There’s a big difference between talking about making a difference and actually making a change.

Resilient Coders (RC)— a nonprofit based out of the CIC in Boston that teaches underserved, at-risk, and super smart young people to code — is a program that is actually making change. The program takes kids from diverse backgrounds, teaches them to code, and gives them opportunities to work in tech — opportunities that they may not have otherwise.

RC hand-picks students from their coding boot camps to enter Resilient Labs, where they are paired with organizations that need services, like websites. We’re talking taking kids from correctional facilities, urban neighborhoods, and low-income families, and training them to build websites from scratch for local schools, organizations, and mom & pop shops. Resilient Labs projects have led to internships and jobs for kids who may not have the resources available to them to break into the tech industry. RC is working to make tech more equitable by making tech jobs accessible to all.

“I have this belief that tech has a responsibility to go hand in hand with social progress,” David Delmar, founder of Resilient Codes, told MSNE. “We have lost touch with that ethos, that sense of responsibility.”

“I personally am allergic to talk. I’m so over it.”

Delmar got the idea to start his program at a giant tech conference in Texas, circa 2008. He looked around at the tens of thousands of people there and counted 14 African Americans. Brilliant technicians sat around talking about sophisticated solutions to trivial problems, like how to make an app that condensed tabs on your computer — he couldn’t believe how disconnected these people were from the problems that really needed solving. They were talking behind closed doors, not getting out to the places that actually need help.

“When I counted maybe 14 people of color out of 10s of thousands. That’s a real problem. That’s an actual problem. I started trying to code my way out of it,” Delmar said. “But It’s not a software problem. It is a people problem. It is a roll up your sleeves and get in there problem.”

Resilient Coders is full of stories of kids who came from difficult backgrounds, and through the program, were able to turn their lives around and reach inspiring heights in the tech space. One of those kids is Brian.

Brian immigrated to the US with his mother and sister from Mexico. The turning point in his life that led him to Resilient Coders was during his freshman year at Northeastern, when his family was suddenly evicted by a developer in East Boston. Though he was doing really well in school, the incident led Brian to drop out of college.

“I realized that a piece of paper had more power than everything. A piece of paper can take you out of your own home,” Brian explained in an interview with Be Visible. “I also realized that the only way to feel empowered was to find a way, a career path that was stable. I wasn’t finding that in college… I felt like it was going to take too long for me to actually have a sustainable career if I followed the traditional route. And I just wasn’t fulfilled.”

Then he found Resilient Coders and learned to code through their after school boot camps. Brian quickly moved from being temporarily uprooted to redesigning the website for the Boston Public Market, and is now a front-end apprentice with Fresh Tilled Soil, one of the most prestigious design agencies in Boston. Brian is also a mentor for Resilient Coders, and helps other kids learn HTML, CSS, Javascript, and UX Design — embodying their mission of doing — actively teaching coding to underrepresented communities.

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Brian and David hugging at the MassTLC Awards 2016 after David won the Distinguished Leadership Award.

The day after the election, Brian came in to Resilient Coders, and was totally ashen-faced. He approached Delmar and said, “Del, I feel like my mother has worked so hard to set me and my sisters up in this country, and this country that I love has just told me that I’m not welcome here.”

He and Brian’s conversation led them to start a program called #CommitResilience, which is an invitation for people to do something about hate crimes by promoting inclusion and peace. On the Commit Resilience website, you can share commitments you’re making to make your world more accessible to members of disenfranchised communities.

“If you’re mad, good. Be mad. But do something with it. Be productively mad,” Delmar said to Brian and to MSNE. “If you want to protest, go ahead, do so. But you can also protest with the very nature of your own success.”

“Be exactly the type of person who people out there think you cannot be. Be someone who contributes meaningfully to society. Who works to give others access to the American Dream, even to the people who don’t believe that you have access to it yourself.”

To the tech community, Delmar has the same message. “I have companies come up to me all the time asking how they can help and I say: stop talking and take action. Hire these kids.”

“I really need you to rethink what it will take to address the diversity crisis, and to be open to the possibility that you and your company might not be doing anything about it right now. Even if you think you are,” Delmar wrote in an opinion piece for The Boston Globe. “I need you to think differently about a problem we’ve consistently failed to solve.”

Read The White House’s recent blog featuring Brian here. Watch the below video by MassTLC, featuring both David and Brian. And head to resilientcoders.org to hire some of the brightest programmers around. 

Drive Digital Literacy This Computer Science Education Week With The Hour of Code

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Every December, something special happens for students around the world. Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), held annually in December in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906), is a grassroots campaign dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science. The campaign, originally conceived by the Computing in the Core coalition, is now spearheaded by Code.org alongside 350 partners and 100,000 educators worldwide.

MA Computer Science Stats

Stats via Code.org

This year, CSEdWeek runs from December 5, 2016 through December 11, 2016, and we’re ready to once again be on board. With over 500,000 open computing jobs nationwide — despite the fact that only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce in 2016 — we’re ready to engage the next generation of coders and drive innovation throughout the world. In fact, just this year, the state of Massachusetts, worked alongside STEM education group MassCAN to develop voluntary Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards for MA high schools. But that’s just the first step. Computer science is a foundational skill and it’s up to us to ensure that every 21st century child gets the chance to learn how technology works.

So how do we get this done?

The centerpiece of CSEdWeek lies within a program devised by Code.org named the Hour of Code. An Hour of Code is a basic coding tutorial that new coders of all ages — and over 45 languages — can use to begin their journey in computer science. In over 180 countries, 305,078,080 students have performed an Hour of Code since its inception. It’s time to add to this total.

This CSEdWeek, we’re inviting you to take the coding challenge: give a child the gift of computer science and join them in an Hour of Code.

Local Hour of Code programming this CSEdWeek at the Microsoft Store:

Youthspark Camp: Hour of Code

Join us for this free, 90-minute workshop to take part in the global Hour of Code movement during Computer Science Education Week. Go behind the scenes to learn how to code, program, and play in your own gaming world. You’ll use fun, interactive coding to learn how creativity and problem solving come together to make something all your own. Workshop designed for ages 8 and older.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 | 5:00 PM

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 | 5:00 PM

Thursday, December 8, 2016 | 5:00 PM

Microsoft New England Picks: Not-To-Miss Events This December

microsoft-boston-december

We smell snow… and lots of tech events in and around Boston! Join us this December to come together and celebrate the past, present, and future of civic tech — no ghosts of civic tech past, though…

December 3 

The Future of the People conference

Envisioning how science & technology impact the human body, mind, and society at MIT Media Lab.

December 5

Boston Public Schools Hour of Code Kick Off at Roxbury Innovation Center

Boston Public Schools and Roxbury Innovation Center in collaboration with Microsoft New England and the Timothy Smith Network are kicking off Hour of Code for BPS students in grades 6 thru 12.
The Hour of Code is a global movement reaching over 100 million students in more than 180 countries.

Code Girl screening at HubSpot

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week we invite you to join us on December 5th for a movie screening of CodeGirl, a documentary that follows high-school girls from around the globe as they break into technology and programming. Groups of young women build innovations to improve their communities in a competition, Technovation Challenge, designed to empower and propel girls into STEM fields.

December 5-11

MassTLC Education Foundation: Visit a Boston Public School for Computer Science Education Week

Inspire Boston Middle and High School students to try coding and learn more about computer science. During Computer Science Education Week, December 5-11, the MassTLC Education Foundation is partnering with Code.org and the Boston Public Schools to bring technology companies into classrooms.

Sign-up

  • Help teachers with coding lessons.
  • Share your enthusiasm with students.
  • Volunteer just one hour.

December 6

TechGen + GA Present: Intro to the Boston Innovation Economy

Intro to the Boston Innovation Economy is your chance as a student or newcomer to kickstart your career at an innovative tech company. We’re introducing you to the Boston’s top recruiters to give you the skinny on being a star candidate. We are also inviting young professionals from some of the top companies in Boston to join us after the talk to mingle and share their journey into their current roles.

Boston TechBreakfast: Unigma, Cookin, Shuflix, Kaminario

Interact with your peers in a monthly morning breakfast meetup at Microsoft New England. At this monthly breakfast get-together techies, developers, designers, and entrepreneurs share learn from their peers through show and tell / show-case style presentations. And yes, this is free! Thank our sponsors when you see them 🙂

Codess Boston — Think Big

Codess is coming to Boston! You’re invited to network and hear from an inspiring panel of senior technical women at Towne Stove & Spirits at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6. One lucky attendee will also win a Surface Book by sharing their experience using #CodessEvent. The event will be a great chance to meet new people, learn from one another, and empower each other to think big every day!

December 6-7

Smart Cities Summit

The only 2-day Smart Cities event, where you’ll meet stakeholders from the public & private-sector ecosystems to help tomorrow’s cities face the challenges of growing urban populations with the latest IoT technology.

December 7

BostInno’s 50 on Fire

Join BostInno at our year-end awards celebration recognizing the city’s inventors, disruptors, luminaries, and newsmakers across all industries. It’s the hottest event of the year, and it’s back!

Social Innovation Forum’s 13th Annual Winter Reception

We invite our community of investors, supporters, and portfolio organizations to join us for the formal announcement of the 2017 Social Innovators and a celebration of the achievements of our portfolio organizations! The evening will feature cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and celebration. We look forward to raising a glass to each of you – our incredible community of leaders, friends, volunteers and supporters.

December 8

TechInMotion’s End of the Year Celebration

This December, join Tech in Motion for an unforgettable celebration of the people and organizations driving innovation in Boston and beyond. Tech in Motion’s End of Year Celebration is a can’t-miss opportunity to network with 3,000+ tech professionals and enthusiasts across our 11 chapters. We’re celebrating everything we love about this community!

Join us December 8th for an evening of cocktails and keynotes. We’ll toast to the year we’ve had and share in our excitement over what’s to come in 2017.

The StartUp Institute: Find a Job You Love

Join Program Director Rich Di Tieri at our Boston campus to learn how Startup Institute can help you land a job you’ll be passionate about. Hear about how our program will catapult you into the growing innovation economy in the areas of web development, web design, digital marketing, or sales and account management. We’ll give you insight into our unique methodology and answer your questions about coursework, partnerships, instructors, alumni engagements, and success rates of our graduates.

December 10

Build a Bot Hackathon @ PLUG

We are thrilled to host our first Hackathon @ PLUG! Join us for a 24-hour adventure of coding and having some fun. We’re providing food and drinks and you’re providing your awesome selves. The event is completely free for all participants and $20 for any audience members.

MassTLC Education Foundation: Technovation 2017: Kickoff & Orientation

Interested in taking part in the Technovation Challenge? Come to the Kickoff for the 2017 Technovation Season! Get the info, find a team, and start working on ideas! You don’t need to have a team, an idea, or any experience at all! Just bring your interest & energy and discover more about Technovation.

December 10-11

Museum of Science Computer Science Education weekend

Join the Museum in celebrating Computer Science Education Week, observed each year in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992).

We are marking the occasion with our own roster of fun and educational hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Participate in a variety of do-it-yourself projects at Tech Studio carts during the week and engage in a wide range of computer science activities throughout the Museum during the celebration’s culmination — Computer Science Education Weekend.