By: Marc Robert Wong, Founder and Global Chair of TeenTechSF
Bringing Silicon Valley to the World and the World to Silicon Valley
In December, Salesforce hosted the TeenTechSF 2015 Global Youth Summit on “Tech & Social Impact.” 150 students, mentors, teachers, parents, and volunteers mobbed “Salesforce U” in San Francisco with 1,000 more joining the global livestream and on-the-ground events in Seattle, New York, Paris, London, Istanbul, and Shanghai.
During the event, in the wake of the Paris attacks, Mission Laïque Française Director Deberre delivered a message of “solidarité sans frontières” discussing tech and global citizenship. Microsoft Middle East & Africa Director Faramawy shared insights on how technology is bringing “hope and transformation” to a region of stark contrasts and rich diversity. Keynote speaker Evernote CTO Dave Engberg emphasized the leverage tech gives to individuals observing, “Computer people right now can effect such change so quickly with such a small team and so few resources. This is an unbelievably unique time in the history of humanity.”
TeenTechSF: A “Cloud-based” School Club
I started TeenTechSF as a high school sophomore because my school didn’t have a technology club. I wanted to use digital tools to reinvent the “school club” by creating an interactive platform so that any student, any where, any time could join in. Our mission is to empower the next generation of tech innovators by providing equal access to tech resources and skills for all teens because diversity fuels innovation. Since launching, student-led TeenTechSF has connected 1,400 students, from diverse schools and organizations in the Bay Area and around the world, with tech leaders from Apple to Zynga. We use Facebook and Twitter to communicate and livestream events via YouTube so that students have online access both during and after activities. We’ve organized onsite conferences and hands-on tech workshops with public and private schools, at corporate headquarters and startup incubators, partnering with Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and UC Berkeley. Run by and for students, all our events are free.
The Next Generation of Tech Innovators & Civic Entrepreneurs
Our first-ever Civic Hackathon World Pitch transformed ideas into action with students from Tunisia to Tokyo creating tech solutions to civic problems, including the needs of the homeless and refugees, educational reform, mobility/disability issues, and building stronger, safer communities. The top 8 teams were honored at Salesforce during the World Pitch by lead judge, Technovation Global Parters Director Madhavi Bhasin. First place went to a team from Seattle for Voicepedia, the first mobile app focused on enabling easy and comprehensive Wikipedia access for the blind, now available on the iOS App store. An all-female team from the Ahliyyah School for Girls in Jordan received the Best First-Time Hacker Award for Project Amal, a website connecting refugees with much needed resources.
Salesforce 1-1-1 Integrated Philosophy in Action
Thanks to all the wonderful Salesforce volunteers who made the TeenTechSF 2015 Global Youth Summit possible! For many students this was their first time to visit a tech company headquarters, but we hope not their last. One of the students was Robert Shi from Galileo High School. He attended the Salesforce workshop on cloud-computing and commented that the highlight of the Summit for him was meeting a Salesforce engineer, “who explained the benefits of storing information on a cloud and talked about the fun parts of his job. The talk was engaging and exposed me to many new ideas.” We appreciate Salesforce’s support of TeenTechSF and the next generation of tech innovators and civic entrepreneurs!
Check out our website for more info and how you can join us at TeenTechSF.org!