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The “Rising Stars” participated in the All Star Code event in the New York Hamptons. (Photo credit Tyrone Rasheed)

In every area of the technology field, Blacks are not only under represented, they are nearly nonexistent. Blacks comprise less than 1% of startup founding teams at tech companies like Twitter, Google, and LinkedIn.

On July 25th, celebrities, philanthropists, and high school participants gathered at the Second Annual Summer Benefit for All-Star Code (ASC), a tech education nonprofit that aims to provide resources, mentorship, and educational opportunities for young, Black men interested in the tech field.

The benefit opened with a cocktail reception which featured game stations with games developed by ASC students and alumni. Following the reception was a dinner, awards ceremony and auction. Altogether the event raised over $600K.

Maurice DuBois, award winning anchor of ‘CBS 2 This Morning’, hosted the awards ceremony over dinner provided by Chef Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem. Co-Chair Loida Nicolas Lewis presented Frank A. Baker, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Siris Capital Group, with the Visionary Award. Co-Chair Troy Carter, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Atom Factory, presented Goldman Sachs Gives with the Corporate Leadership Award. Co-Chair Valentino D. Carlotti accepted the award on behalf of Goldman Sachs Gives. And current All Star Code student Cameron King presented Marcus Mitchell with the Community Award. Mitchell is a Senior Engineering Director at Google.

In addition to the funds raised that night, ASC was also celebrating receiving $100,000 from AT&T to increase the number of coders who attend the program.

Zavier Jenkins, a Baltimore native who will be a senior at the High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College New York is a member of the first ASC summer intensive group.  He spoke about how ASC has helped him to become a “hacker”. He said, “Yes, it can mean a black hat who breaks into the federal government’s servers and does terrible things, but to be a hacker can also mean to be an explorer, an inventor, an innovator. To me to be a hacker is to solve problems, to make new things out of old ones. This is what ASC has taught me, to love solving problems and how to make new things. It made me into an explorer, and an inventor, and an innovator. It changed my life.”

This article was originally published in INSIDE NEW YORK’s section of the Afro-Times  and is reprinted with permission of INSIDE NEW YORK.