For the past several years, Miami has tried to claim a piece of the tech bubble. Flooded with developers, programmers, and entrepreneurs the city is looking to create the initial foundation on which to launch the east coast's take on Silicon Valley. While some institutions have lauded the move, others like Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine have derided attempts to shift the city's focus away from the tourism industry. Still several key institutions within the city have made moves to foster a more tech-friendly climate.
On Wednesday, the Knight Foundation's Future Leaders of Tech Scholarship bestowed its award to two young programmers at Wyncode Academy. The fund sponsors Wyncode students, from low-income areas of Miami-Dade, as they dive into a nine-week immersive course that'll prepare them to master basic coding.
“The future growth of Miami’s innovation ecosystem relies on the ability to build a community of entrepreneurs that reflects the diversity of our city,” says the Miami program director for The Knight Foundation Matt Haggman. “Wyncode is giving South Florida residents the skills they need to not only learn how to code but to engage in their community and contribute to the success of their city.”
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Arielle Dickey and Henry Arbolaez were selected from the applicants for their outstanding credentials. They were picked by a panel of three judges that included Brian Brackeen, CEO of Kairos, a company specializing in facial recognition software; Kiesha Moodie, the director of alumni engagement for Teach For America; and Widny St. Louis, a Wyncode alumni.
"I have seen firsthand, the impact that Wyncode has on lives, and families here in Miami. We are not just talking about a highly marketable skill, we are talking about ending the cycle of poverty in affected communities," said Brackeen. "The leadership of the Knight Foundation, and of Johanna, Juha, and team Wyncode is exactly what makes Miami tech so special. We are one community, with one goal — a better Miami.”
Miami still has a long way to go before it can rival the West Coast's tech behemoth. Yet, with more opportunities for young talent to learn industry basics, the groundwork for the shift towards tech has never been more in reach.