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Teen Activist Launches Dollar Campaign to Fund Virtual CS Summer Camp


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Ian Brock speaking

Ian Brock was the only teenager invited to speak at a Google event.

Credit: Dream Hustle Code

"I want to convince 375,000 people that for less than the cost of a cup of coffee, they can help transform 1,000 young Black lives this summer by donating $1," says Ian Michael Brock, 15-year-old Computer Science Activist and self-proclaimed "New Nerd." While Brock says he definitely won't refuse a big check, he'd prefer to have hundreds of thousands of people make small donations in the hope of encouraging dialogue about the importance of Black youth learning computer science. A Gen Z'er himself, Brock believes that if his Black peers study computer science on a large enough scale then it would change the economy of the entire Black community in America, while closing the gap not only of the digital divide, but more importantly of economic inequality.

The New Nerd Virtual Summer Camp is an eight-week program that combines computer programming and personal development for 5th-to-9th graders. The hybrid online class introduces JavaScript code with Google's Grasshopper Application. To increase maximum engagement, Brock blends popular music to add in fun. It's definitely not your typical classroom!

Brock is certain that personal development strategies are a critical tool to support students especially when they encounter roadblocks. He believes that once they learn life strategies, they will apply them in their daily lives just as he has done for the past eleven years. This is especially true for Black youth in Chicago this summer, who continually face threats from escalating violence and murders, historic racial unrest, and surging COVID-19 concerns. Participation in the virtual class and gaining life skills can keep youth out of harm's way and take their minds off the chaos, Brock says.

Brock is no stranger to leading a group of students virtually. For the past 15 weeks he has coached and mentored youth from 19 different states across America. The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to a different kind of distance learning through Brock's unique NEW NERD CS + Personal Development Mini Boot Camp and Friday Speaker Series. He has created a direct digital pipeline for students to access computer programming/coding at a comfortable pace, in a cool environment with a coach that they can vibe with live daily. Gaining self-confidence, learning to overcome adversity, and developing goal setting skills are key program outcomes. Brock's work in technology finds its origins in Dream Hustle Code, the nonprofit organization he co-founded to bring access to computer science education to youth from communities underrepresented in tech.

Brock will continue featuring a Friday Speaker Series highlighting leaders from different industries who will share their stories of success and failure. Past guests have included R. Donahue Peebles, a successful Black real estate developer, Chris Bosh, a two-time NBA champion, and Olympic gold medalist, Daraiha Greene, Google's Global Head of Strategic Partnerships, Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of Priceline.com, and others. Brock says he is lining up an impressive list of upcoming speakers, but is keeping the names under wraps.

At 15, Brock has built an impressive resume of his own. Twice invited to Google, he has spoken at their HQ in Mountain View and Los Angeles where he was the only teen speaker. Before 15,000 screaming students at a WE Day Chicago event, he took the stage and unleashed his inner tech rock star while advocating for increased computer science education. His story has been featured in Forbes, Black Enterprise, Education Week, Travel Noire, and live onstage at the BET Awards. Brock's vision and confidence enabled him to gain the support of millionaire entrepreneurs and multi-billion dollar corporations to carry out his ambitious idea to take a group of kids from Chicago and Racine, Wis., to Silicon Valley "to gain a bigger vision for their future." For his book on success for kids, he has interviewed an inspiring list of 49 individuals from Hollywood to the venture capital community.

Brock believes that the great digital divide in America can be closed. He dreams of a day when racial, education, and economic inequality will become a thing of the past. His belief is that Black youth must first gain essential skills to play a meaningful role in shaping America's future.

He says that God blessed him with gifts and opportunities that made it possible for him to be in the tech game. Brock believes that it is his responsibility to open the door for millions of others to follow.

The Virtual Summer Session began July 13, 2020. Donations can be made at www.dreamhustlecode.com/donate.


 

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