“We have a group of Dorsey High School students who will be traveling to San Francisco for a Silicon Valley Tour,” said digital media specialist and Mother of Many CEO, Daphne Bradford. “They’ve been working on this for two years as part of the AP computer science pathway I designed at Dorsey.”
The sixteen Dorsey High School Coding with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) students were unable to attend the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017. They submitted their apps for the annual competition but due to technical glitches, which Apple agreed to change, they still missed their opportunity.
“We went through all the curriculum, went through everything, so [Apple] found some things that could’ve been better, so they went on and changed those things,” said Bradford. “So this year, they didn’t get a chance to apply because [Apple] didn’t give us the training, so they just decided to do it on their own.”
Apple reached out to the students in a letter stating, “With an extraordinary number of great submissions, the selection process was not easy. We regret that we are unable to offer you a [WWDC 2016] scholarship this year.”
The letter continued with the statement, “We encourage you to apply for a scholarship next year and look forward to supporting your future development efforts.”
Despite the setback, the Dorsey STEAM students turned their lemons into lemonade and will now embark on their own tour which includes visits to Google, Microsoft and Uber. The three mega-companies heard about the plight of the Dorsey students and provided funding for career-day tours of the facilities.
“They’re all hosting career days,” said Bradford. “So far, right now, everybody has done $2,000.”
Uber Technologies Inc. confirmed a $2,000 donation to cover an Uber Career day plus one night of hotel expenses. The Dorsey STEAM students will visit Uber headquarters in San Francisco for a tour, lunch and fireside chat with Uber technology staff.
The Los Angeles School Police (LASP) also got involved with Officer William Etue committing a $1,000 donation on behalf of the LASP Union. During a meeting with Bradford, he learned of the students’ desire to visit Silicon Valley and immediately contacted the L.A. School Police Union for support.
“Facebook owns Instagram and the campus is amazing! It is my hope that the Los Angeles School Police donation will encourage Facebook to support our efforts,” stated Bradford.
“With all of the cyberbullying and Facebook live activity going on, this is a great opportunity for Mark Zuckerberg and/or Sheryl Sandberg to connect with a group of South Los Angeles computer science students who are heavily impacted by the good, the bad and the ugly consequences of social media.”
In the meantime, the Dorsey STEAM students have been busy teaching computer science at Dorsey and other schools throughout South L.A. A lot of their focus is on game design, coding and games for cellphones. A recent graduate of Dorsey High School, Shannon V. shared some of her experiences with the program.
“Through Summer Bridges, I taught for two summers,” said Shannon. “We basically give them the fundamentals of computer science.
Shannon added, “I feel Mother of Many provided me a lot of opportunities that aren’t provided in South Los Angeles and for me, it’s not just the opportunity she provides us but the opportunities she allows us to give to others.”
“This year, I did an internship,” said Imani D. “We taught the elementary school students programs… we basically expose them to it, so as they get older, that could be something they want to explore more.”
“I did one Summer Bridge program where we taught in-coming ninth graders the fundamentals of codes,” said Amari B. “We showed them the fundamentals of coding and what Dorsey has to offer—what we can offer to our community.”
“I’ve been in the program for two years, since the beginning,” said Mohamad L. “It wasn’t until this year, recently, that I’ve been teaching.
“I participated in the internship with teaching students about game design.”
What started off as a disappointment became an opportunity for the Dorsey STEAM students to seize their own dreams. They decided to create their own tour raising funds and because of that dedication, others reached out to them. This may be the beginning of a new way to tour facilities and organizations many underserved youth never get a chance to experience.
“That’s the purpose of taking our kids from right here within South L.A.,” said Bradford. “We’re so dependent on everybody else—we need to do our own thing.”
The Dorsey STEAM students tour commenced with their first visit being Uber, then Microsoft and they ended the tour with a visit to Google. The Dorsey STEAM students have also dedicated their tour to the memory of Elijah Robinson, who died in an arson fire recently on 48th and Crenshaw. Robinson was a Microsoft ambassador and founding STEAM student of Mother of Many.
“He will be with us there in spirit,” said Bradford.
Mother Of Many’s Coding with STEAM students participated in the establishment of South LA’s first AP Computer Science pathway and the College Board’s AP Computer Science Principals Pilot program, which officially launched this school year (2016-2017).
M.O.M. (www.motherofmany.com), is a grassroots nonprofit organization using innovative technology training, computer and food science to help keep students engaged in high school and prepare them for college and STEAM careers. The mission is to “bridge the digital technology and STEM career divide” in order to close the achievement gap in neighborhoods where historically underrepresented girls, African American and Hispanic American students have little access to cutting edge 21st Century technology. Partner schools include Crenshaw High school, Dorsey High School, King Drew Medical Magnet, Webster Middle School and Frank D Parent K-8 school.