Teaching black boys to shine in tech: All Star Code celebrates in the Hamptons with Soledad O’Brien, Van Jones

The program wants to see young men of color lead the way in technology.

Samantha Nandez/ Bfa.com

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(All Star Code Summer Gala Host, Soledad O’Brien, talks about why she’s so dedicated to mentoring.)

It’s no secret that the technology sector suffers from a lack of diversity– but one program is showing young black men how to become bosses, by making them all star coders.

The non-profit organization All Star Code– founded by former business journalist Christina Lewis– recently took over the Hamptons to celebrate it’s accomplishments in bringing young men of color into the technology arena, through computer science education and enrichment.

Photo Credit: Samantha Nandez/ BFA.Com

The organization hosted their Fifth Annual Summer Benefit to raise funds and honor Van Jones (President & Founder of the nonprofit, Yes We Code) and Reshma Saujani (Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.

Photo Credit: Samantha Nandez/ BFA.Com

The event was hosted by Award Winning Journalist and Executive Producer, Soledad O’Brien, who shared with theGrio the importance of mentorship programs like All Star Code.

“It’s been proven over and over many times, that mentoring is a key component to success for everybody,” says O’ Brien. “Certainly when it comes to an industry like tech when there is not a lot of Black people, or people of color especially when you look at the subcategory of black men. So it’s no question that mentorship is critical to see young people succeed.”

During the gala, Lewis explains what inspired her to create an organization for men of color interested in the tech industry.

“I wanted to invest in young men of color and teach them computer science in a way that is rigorous and intensive,” Lewis tells theGrio. “And not just computer science but soft skills, take them on-site visits, do mentorship, and really in-depth programming that I was seeing was working with women and girls, but none that were working with boys. So it’s amazing five years later to see what we have accomplished.”

Photo Credit: Samantha Nandez/ BFA.Com

Honoree Van Jones also shared how the late icon, Prince, inspired him to create a program that people in the black community can benefit from.

Prince, when he was alive, was very concerned by what was going on with our urban youth especially after Trayvon Martin was killed,” explains Jones. “So from that I wanted to create an opportunity, for kids to become coders.”

At that time Mark Zuckerberg use to wear hoodies, and Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie. And Jones thought, what if we had more black Mark Zuckerberg’s and that was the start of “Yes We Code.”

Young black men will continue to take the tech industry by storm thanks to the honorees and everyone who supports the gala.  This year’s gala broke previous records with over 300 attendees, raising over 900,000 dollars towards the organization.

All Star Code’s founder, Christina Lewis, who is also daughter of legendary businessman, the late Reginald F. Lewis, says her father’s legacy still inspires her today.

“I realized that if my father were a young man today, he would no doubt be working in technology, the growth industry for building wealth in the 21st century,” Lewis writes on the program’s website.

“With that notion in mind, I began investigating ways to help minority talent gain access to the tech world.  I created this program to help the next generation of youth catch the next wave of opportunity.”

To learn more about the organization and how you can get involved you can visit AllStarCode.org