Started by Kalimah Priforce, Qeyno Labs offers hackathons to high potential youth of color in the San Francisco Bay Area. The organization primarily serves African American youth in Oakland. Its founder identified the need to offer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art Design, and Mathematics) to youth of color after the glaring lack of diversity and opportunity in high tech became apparent.
While most hackathons in Silicon Valley are a sea of white, and sometimes, Asian faces, the scene at Qeyno Labs is very different. Its main endeavor is the hackathon – a marathon style event where an idea for an app is pitched, voted on and created in a very short amount of time. The participants of the Hackathon Academy, the flagship school of Qeyno Labs that identifies youth with the potential to succeed in STEAM with the opportunity, support, and chance to do so.
African-American Kalimah Priforce and his talented team are on a mission to support young innovators and create the changes they wish to see in the world directly. They reach teens with the potential to reach great heights but are otherwise alienated due to low-income and few opportunities. Through technological training, youth of color is able to proactively address areas of their lives that affect them, their communities, and society and work toward the overall good. And they do this through devices they are already familiar with and use – their phones. Young men and women are creating apps with a purpose while gaining experience and training that will enable them to access and participate and the fastest growing occupational sector. Unfortunately, this sector only sees about 2-3% of African-Americans within its walls.
Silicon Valley is a hotbed of startup innovation and financial access that has been largely inaccessible to African-Americans and Latinos. Through Qeyno Labs hackathons, African-American and Latino teens are introduced to a high-paying career trajectory that enables them to compete with other applicants or found and start their own endeavors.