A coding academy in East Palo Alto hosts annual hackathons and coding classes that connect residents with the tech industry.
At StreetCode Academy’s hackathon last week, EPA resident Jose Guzman, 18, created a virtual reality based on his mom’s reality immigrating from Guatemala.
“At first she was scared to drive behind the wheel and that put the thought into me like hey, what if you can practice driving skills virtually?”
He developed a driving simulator after just a few coding lessons. The Academy pairs Stanford students and tech insiders with EPA residents for two days to develop projects.
Jose’s project took first place and won him $500.
“StreetCode is filling that void by offering the East Palo Alto community technology and giving them the exposure that they need,” said Jonathan Bryant, Program Manager at StreetCode.
Second place went to “Everything two dollars dot com,” a website an EPA resident created for his product delivery service.
“I noticed there was something missing and that was a personal delivery service that had quality goods at a reasonable price that people in my community could afford,” said Lavell Russell, CEO of Everything Two Dollars.com.
Fifteen hundred products will be on the site in December for just two bucks. Delivery is also two dollars. A fleet of drivers have already been hired.
“It’s like 99 cent store on steroids,” said Russell. “While you’re studying or while you’re at work I’m doing all the hard work getting the products that you need to your home.”
Home-grown solutions technologically mastered by neighborhood techies is the goal of the organization.
“Everyone is trying to solve problems that they are familiar with and when you come from a community like EPA you’re surrounded by problem that are a lot different than most people are trying to deal with,” said Luke Wilson, Mentor at Streetcode. “It’s absolutely vital that these problems are being solved by the people who live here.”
StreetCode will start more classes four nights a week starting in January.