National program addresses diversity, tech talent pipeline in Indy

We talk frequently about the need to increase the tech talent pipeline for many reasons, but one discussion we aren’t having often enough is the need to attract more youth minorities.

Two announcements occurred late last week from Be Nimble — the spark behind Disrupt Indy — and the Bloom Project that highlight both the upcoming event and a new partnership focused on local solutions to the pipeline problem.

Kicking off in the Fall 2018-19 school year, the Bloom Project, a local nonprofit organization providing service projects and career exploration opportunities for youth ages 12-18, will launch EarSketch in Indianapolis. The national program, created by Georgia Tech, has chosen Indianapolis and is partnering with the Bloom Project’s STEM initiative, Tech Kings.

Tech Kings is an exploratory program built to help close the racial diversity gap. Through mentorship, events and educational programming aimed at minority young men, a pipeline of future talent are created that previously were not inspired or encouraged to pursue tech roles.

EarSketch is a National Science Foundation-funded initiative created to help drive interest in computing and engineering careers. The program will come to life through a digital audio workstation environment that allows students to create their own computational music remixes through learning computing principles; allowing kids to learn in a fun and engaging atmosphere.

Screenshot from EarSketch explaining how the platform works

 

EarSketch’s software platform includes a music library of over 4,000 samples (plus the ability to upload your own) that are used while you simultaneously learn coding principles of Python and JavaScript. It has been used by over 190,000 students in all 50 states and in over 100 countries to teach core topics in computer science, music, and music technology.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, EarSketch founder Jason Freeman explained why he saw the need to develop the software: “Music is something that has a connection to the real things students care about. It’s kind of a magical way to get them engaged, and that’s a huge challenge in STEAM education. But with EarSketch, they can interact with music through code, and they can do things they could never do with a traditional music platform. We’re able to create interactive applications that ask users about the kind of music they want – pop, gospel, hip hop and so on – using a library of about 4,000 sounds as a starting point. Students can even record their own sounds, too.”

The program has partnered with Grammy Award-winning DJ and Engineer, Gimel “Young Guru” Keaton, who will work to produce new audio content for EarSketch. Young Guru, called the “Most Influential Man in Hip-Hop” by The Wall Street Journal, gained fame for his work as an audio engineer on music from Beyonce, Rihanna, and Jay-Z. He is also launching his own education platform called The Sleeping Giants of STEM which focuses on understanding the relationship music technology plays to drive academic and career outcomes for African-American and Latino males.

Why was Young Guru interested in this project? Because he knows the importance of matching mainstream interests of today’s youth with a path to employment.

Young GuruDJ and Engineer

“I have long believed that music production via technology will bring arts back into school and solve the tech diversity and inclusion problem. So when my team found the opportunity to work with Georgia Tech on EarSketch, I was excited to leverage music production and Hip-Hop as a viable tool to engage young people in STEM,” said Young Guru.

“Our partnership was part of the catalyst to our Sleeping Giants of STEM initiative, a nationwide effort to get more Black and Brown youth into STEM. We’ve engineered a culturally-relevant platform that gets kids excited to learn coding and opens them to new possibilities in the sciences and tech. With the explosive growth of the Indianapolis tech ecosystem, it was important to get in front of this problem by launching Earsketch and Sleeping Giants in partnership with Techkings and the Bloom Project.”

In celebration of EarSketch’s launch in Indianapolis, Young Guru will act as the keynote speaker and featured DJ at Pardi Gras Ball II, the Tech Kings’ annual fundraiser. The event is Indiana’s largest black-tie gala geared towards young, Black, conscious professionals and takes places on Friday, February 24 at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

$40,000 was raised at last year’s inaugural Pardi Gras Ball to launch Tech Kings in Indianapolis. Can you help take the goal to $100,000? RSVP and reserve your spot today and learn more about the Bloom Project, Tech Kings and EarSketch here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Croft is the director of communications at TechPoint. She writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people and events. Reach out to Sara @saraelysecroft.