Community Kickoff

Hands Up United, a local Ferguson based community organization, will host a community kickoff event and technology panel on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 from 9:30AM to 12:00 PM at T-REX in downtown St. Louis. The community kick off will recognize the new Roy Clay Sr. Web Development and Entrepreneurship cohort and feature a panel discussion on the role of technology in pursuit of social justice. Leading tech activists from LaunchCode, ThoughtWorks, Tech Impact, Venture Cafe and GlobalHack will share resources with people interested in the pathway towards social innovation. Community members, educators, business owners and media are invited to join Hands Up United in honoring the legacy of Roy Clay Sr., “The Black Godfather of Silicon Valley,”  welcome their new cohort and learn how technology plays a significant role in social justice.

"Tech education is social justice,” said Launch Code’s Crystal Martin. “The digital divide that exists in low-income communities keeps people from being able to advocate for themselves, their community, and the world around them.  Coupling social justice with tech education empowers communities --it's an amplifier for the voice of the unheard and a tool for healing."

The Roy Clay Sr. Web Development and Entrepreneurship Workshop, part of Hands Up United’s Tech Impact Initiative, is an initiative spearheaded by Idalin Abby Bobe’, a ThoughtWorks technologist, and Tara Thompson, a Program Director at Hands Up United. The program is funded through individual workshop crowdfund campaigns. It was created as a social entrepreneurial community endeavor leading up to Ferguson October’s Weekend of Resistance in 2014 as a response to local youth activists calling for the boycott of large corporations and the reinvestment of dollars into local Black and Latino community-driven businesses. Their strategy unearthed a problem that these small businesses had no web presence and inspired an innovative opportunity for youth, activists and local business owners to work together.

"Equipping people with marketable skills is imperative. The jobs of tomorrow aren't based on the skills of yesterday," said Travis Sheridan, executive director of Venture Cafe Foundation - St. Louis. "Knowledge and skill gives young people more options and options offer hope."

The program is named after Roy Clay Sr., a St. Louis native, born in Ferguson, who is known as the “Black Godfather” of Silicon Valley. An early pioneer in the tech world, Roy Clay Sr. was a key figure in the development of Hewlett-Packard’s computer divisions and the first African-American to serve as councilman and vice-mayor in Palo Alto.

The Roy Clay Sr. Web Development and Entrepreneurship summer session kicks off Saturday, July 11th. Attendees will meet the new students and have an opportunity to browse the websites created by last session’s participants for Ferguson Burger Bar and other local business. The celebration will be hosted at T-REX located on the 5th Floor of 911 Washington Ave in St. Louis.  Roy Clay Sr Day is free and open to the public.

Panelist Include:

Antony Tyler

Anthony Tyler, Tech Impact Developer

Anthony is a rising sophomore in St. Louis at Lift for Life Academy. As a recent Roy Clay Sr. graduate, Anthony learned fundamentals of web development and built a website for a local small business. Anthony has signed up to serve as a mentor to other students in the program and is active activist in the Ferguson Movement. He is also hopes to launch his own business before he graduates high school. 

Crystal Martin

Crystal Martin, LaunchCode and CoderGirl

The Community Education Coordinator of LauchCode. She also serves as a key organizer of CoderGirl, an all women meetup that meets Wednesday evenings sponsored by LaunchCode. The meetup is available to all women interested in programming. As a newbie technologist, she understands the power of learning technology and is eager to make an impact in bridging the digital divide. 


Travis Sheridan

Travis Sheridan, Venture Cafe

Travis is the founding Executive Director of Venture Café Foundation - St. Louis. Travis has spent the past decade working with more than 400 startups in California and St. Louis. His goal is to use innovation and entrepreneurship to drive community and economic development.


Matt Menietti

Matt Menietti, GlobalHack

Matt is the Executive Director of GlobalHack. The nonprofit is now shifting their focus away from corporate or startup problems to the civic sector, to solve technology problems for nonprofits, governments, school districts and other public organizations. He'll talk about the importance of participating in hackathons as a senior and aspiring programmer. 


Abby Bobe

Idalin "Abby" Bobé, ThoughtWorks

Bobé is an IT consultant at ThoughtWorks and serves as a Social Justice leader within the company. During her time in St. Louis she worked with Hands Up United and spearheaded their Tech Impact initiative. Originally from the North Side of Philadelphia, Abby has impacted thousands of men, women and children globally with her work in tech literacy and empowerment.