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The latest from LaunchCode Mentor Center

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Services Web/Tech  St. Louis Square Samantha Williams Rosa Mayer Public Relations Manager MO LaunchCode Jim McKelvey Crystal Martin Central West End

In mid-November LaunchCode Mentor Center hosted a 3rd anniversary celebration in their facility at 4811 Delmar Blvd., just east of Euclid Ave. With more than 800 people in attendance, I was unable to do more than snap some photos and try out the 10-minute coding class. Recently however, I met with public relations manager, Samantha Williams (shown later in this post), to learn more about the CWE-based technology training center.

LaunchCode was founded in 2013 by local entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim McKelvey. The training center’s mission is “to create economic opportunity for aspiring developers through job placement and training in technology.”

Williams mentioned that “McKelvey sometimes swings by the Mentor Center during the day to work. When he’s at a table with students who also come in to work on assignments and projects, they don’t know who he is. It’s amazing to see how he fits in so perfectly with the students and to witness his continued involvement in LaunchCode.”

To date, LaunchCode has placed more than 500 people in tech apprenticeships around the country. Of those, more than 4 out of 5 have converted to full employment. It’s possible that others who have completed the course have found employment or created businesses on their own.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Services Web/Tech  St. Louis Square Samantha Williams Rosa Mayer Public Relations Manager MO LaunchCode Jim McKelvey Crystal Martin Central West End   Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Services Web/Tech  St. Louis Square Samantha Williams Rosa Mayer Public Relations Manager MO LaunchCode Jim McKelvey Crystal Martin Central West End

At the celebration, an education table was staffed by LaunchCoders who shared information about what programs are available. If you, or someone you know, likes to figure things out, enjoys doing puzzles and/or sudoku, you may have an aptitude for coding, which has been described as learning a new language.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Services Web/Tech  St. Louis Square Samantha Williams Rosa Mayer Public Relations Manager MO LaunchCode Jim McKelvey Crystal Martin Central West End   Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Services Web/Tech  St. Louis Square Samantha Williams Rosa Mayer Public Relations Manager MO LaunchCode Jim McKelvey Crystal Martin Central West End   Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Services Web/Tech  St. Louis Square Samantha Williams Rosa Mayer Public Relations Manager MO LaunchCode Jim McKelvey Crystal Martin Central West End

Left: Crystal Martin is the director of CoderGirl, which is designed to attract more women to the tech field. Most of the 50 or so women enrolled in one of two 20-week classes offered each year are looking for a change in career, may want to start a business, or just learn how to code (as did a lawyer enrolled in CoderGirl).

After the St. Louis American and Fox 2 News featured stories on CoderGirl recently, there were 800 applications to the program.

Right: An exuberant Rosa Mayer, VP of Market Expansion, has been traveling over the past year to other LaunchCode locations that  have sprung-up in South Florida, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau, and Providence, R.I. This past January, Portland and Seattle were added to the list. I found it interesting that this sort of training would be necessary in such tech-centric cities, but I learned that HR departments won’t consider applicants who are self-taught and don’t have formal IT training.

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CWE Ideas Inaugural Event: Saving Public Radio

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Web/Tech  Tim Eby The Vino Gallery TechArtista Co-Working Environment St. Louis Public Radio Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers John Barth CWE Ideas Chief Content Officer PRX

CWE Ideas      

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Web/Tech  Tim Eby The Vino Gallery TechArtista Co-Working Environment St. Louis Public Radio Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers John Barth CWE Ideas Chief Content Officer PRX

Saving Public Radio 

March 9, 2017, 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Location: Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers/4739 McPherson Avenue

There is talk in Washington about defunding the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), all of which could severely damage NPR, PBS, local stations and more.

CWE Ideas presents a Thought Salon featuring Tim Eby, General Manager St. Louis Public Radio and John Barth, Chief Content Officer of PRX who will discuss:

Keeping Public Broadcast Alive: What You Need to Know, What You Can Do

CWE Ideas is an event series organized by Eric Hamblett of TechArtista Collaborative Working Environment, and Nicki Dwyer of Nicki’s Central West End Guide. The series will explore arts and culture, food and drink, and business affairs in unique CWE settings. Please get in touch if you’d like to nominate an idea! Contact: eric@techartista.org

Free event RSVP here

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Web/Tech  Tim Eby The Vino Gallery TechArtista Co-Working Environment St. Louis Public Radio Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers John Barth CWE Ideas Chief Content Officer PRX   Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Education Web/Tech  Tim Eby The Vino Gallery TechArtista Co-Working Environment St. Louis Public Radio Selkirk Auctioneers and Appraisers John Barth CWE Ideas Chief Content Officer PRX

Theresa Fister & the Smart Kookies take top prize at GlobalHackVI

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  West End Word Visitation Academy STL Programs St. Louis MO Kode With Klossy Karlie Kloss Jeff Fister GlobalHackVI Chafeitz Arena Central West End #Code {Red)

Theresa Fister is the 7th of 8 siblings in her family and, according to her big brother James, she’s definitely the coolest.  At 16, she and four other young high school women beat the competition at last October’s GlobalHackVI at Chafeitz Arena and garnered top prize in the youth division. The “Smart Kookies” won $50,000 for a phone app they created to aid the homeless.

The Fister kids grew up in the CWE and attended St. Louis the King School at The Cathedral (Basilica). Theresa transferred to Visitation Academy, her mother and sister’s alma mater, in 7th grade. A little later, after the older children started moving out of the big house on Westminster Place, the family moved to a more manageable home in Clifton Heights. Theresa’s dad, Jeff Fister, was at one time president of the West End Word/Virginia Publishing Co. and active in the Central West End Association, including several years as president. He is currently the publisher of StL Programs. Theresa’s mom, Laura Fister, teaches French and Home Ec (aka Independent Living) at Bishop DuBourg High School in St. Louis Hills.

Theresa has always had an interest in computers and in 8th grade joined a coding club at Viz taught by upper classmen. “Peers are better at explaining it,” she said.  A year later she applied to Kode with Klossie, a free two-week summer coding camp for girls created by top-model Karlie Kloss, who attended Webster Groves High School. Thousands of young women from around the country sent in videos explaining why they wanted one of 60 spots available in the classes held in St. Louis, New York and Los Angeles. Theresa and two classmates from Viz, Bella Moak and Caroline Gaughan, made the cut, and while at camp held at TRex became friends with R. J. Hartbeck from Brentwood High School and Lauren Crowe from Red Bud, IL.

Following the Kode with Klossy camp experience the 5 friends decided to participate in a Youth Hackathon sponsored by STL Caps, which was also held at TRex. There were 20 teams competing to create an app that makes baseball games more interactive for the audience. The Smart Kookies were the youngest and the only all-girl team. “We didn’t know much about baseball, but we knew what it was like to be bored by it.” They won 1st place for their app which featured fun info about the game and facts about the players.

Because of that win the Smart Kookies were automatically entered into GlobalHack VI at Chaifetz Arena last October.  The weekend-long hackathon drew 1000 people from 8 countries who competed for $1M in prizes. 156 teams were divided into 3 categories, Youth, Adult, and College.

The team was sponsored by Michael Palmer of #Code{Red} who became interested in them following their first win and paid for a hotel room so they could work round the clock.

Global Hack VI’s challenge was to support the work of St. Patrick’s Center (which serves the homeless in St. Louis) by solving one of 3 problems: 1) help the homeless find shelters, 2) help shelters find the homeless, and 3) a database challenge: finding ways to track the homeless.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  West End Word Visitation Academy STL Programs St. Louis MO Kode With Klossy Karlie Kloss Jeff Fister GlobalHackVI Chafeitz Arena Central West End #Code {Red)   Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Web/Tech  West End Word Visitation Academy STL Programs St. Louis MO Kode With Klossy Karlie Kloss Jeff Fister GlobalHackVI Chafeitz Arena Central West End #Code {Red)

Photo courtesy of R.J. Hartbeck, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. From left: Emma Stoverink, Bella Moak, Theresa Fister, Caroline Gaughan, Lauren Crowe, and St. Patrick’s Center CEO Laurie Phillips.

Theresa added that most people are surprised to learn that 90% of the homeless have cellphones, though they are not necessarily smart phones. The team developed an app, including language options thanks to teammate Bella Moak, so the homeless can get information about available shelters.

9 teams from each division made it into the semi-finals, including the only all-girl team, the Smart Kookies.  The list was then winnowed to 5 in each division and once again they made the cut. Each of the 5 teams presented their app on the arena’s Jumbotron, “which was such a thrill,” Theresa said.  When the Smart Kookies were announced as the winner in the youth division, one of the girls said, “they must have made a mistake.” They went into it not expecting anything, only wanting to have a good time. Instead they came out winning $50,000, which Theresa said is a sum she still can’t process.

The favorite things about that weekend, Theresa said, other than winning $10,000 each, was that there was a social component to the coding challenge and all of the work they did is “open sourced,” so anyone can access the app (you can view the link here). Teams can collaborate on future projects. In fact, the Smart Kookies were approached by a team from Mexico suggesting they work together.

You’ll enjoy the video below featuring Karlie Kloss where you’ll meet Theresa and a few of her teammates too.

Congratulations to Theresa Fister and her fellow Smart Kookies. #GirlPower!!!