Diversity Digest

Diversity Digest: Edition VI

Like what you are reading?  Share it with others.

The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility

The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility, or CRF, was dedicated on Sept. 22 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event was attended by family and friends of Johnson and her fellow “human computers”: students from Black Girls Code and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.

“We’re here to honor the legacy of one of the most admired and inspirational people ever associated with NASA,” said Langley Director David Bowles. “I can’t imagine a better tribute to Mrs. Johnson’s character and accomplishments than this building that will bear her name.”

Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Christine Darden were engineers and mathematicians at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, starting in the 1940s. These women inspired the book and movie “Hidden Figures” about the role of African-American women in NASA’s early missions and the discrimination they faced.

The CRF, a state-of-the-art data center, will support NASA’s missions with innovative research and development. The building incorporates energy-saving features that are expected to increase the structure’s energy efficiency by 33 percent. The CRF will advance NASA’s efforts in modeling and simulation, big data and analytics.

Meanwhile, a picture-book adaptation of the 2016 nonfiction title “Hidden Figures” is due out in January. The book, written by Margot Lee Shetterly and Winifred Conkling and illustrated by Laura Freeman, is aimed at children 4-8 years old.

Check out this interview with Katherine G. Johnson about her work and her reaction to the CRF dedication. #NASA #KatherineJohnson #HiddenFigures

The Black Tech Guy

Mondo Davison, aka The Black Tech Guy, recently founded Shortiez, a digital library of culturally relevant short stories. Shortiez is reinventing children’s books to reflect our diverse world. By the end of 2017, Shortiez plans to be integrated in more than 10 schools and accessible to over 3000 children.

“We want kids of color to see themselves reflected in the stories they read from day one. We want young scholars to be empowered by characters that look like them. We want storylines to be relevant. We want the language to be relatable. We want kids to enjoy reading, instead of impersonating it,” wrote Davison.

Check out The Black Tech Guy’s other startups and services, including MyBarJar, SafeSpace and the soon-to-be-released Opher as well as website redesign, consulting services and speaking engagements. #tech #childrensbooks

Building Solutions for Inmates

Frederick Hutson, founder and CEO of Pigeon.ly, is trying to connect the 2.3 million Americans that are currently incarcerated with their loved ones at a cost that everyone can afford. Hutson is just one example of an ex-convict turned entrepreneur rethinking the criminal justice system.

In 2015, Aaron Harris, a Y Combinator partner, interviewed Frederick Hutson on Startup School Radio. One problem Hutson encountered in federal prison was the cost of a phone call: It cost roughly $1 per minute. Federal prison allows inmates up to 300 minutes a month of call time, which can cost up to $300. Inmates cannot send digital images — they exist in an analog world.

“Friends and family members had virtually no low cost, effective way to stay connected with their loved ones that were there,” said Hutson. “What type of person do you want to release [from prison]?” asked Hutson. “Do you want to release someone who has been isolated and has no support network or do you want to release someone who has strong family ties?” Many studies have found communication is essential for successful reentry.

Pigeon.ly began by aggregating public information, finding silos, scraping data and creating an inmate database. The company sent direct mail in the form of 500 business cards to inmates informing them about the services offered and experienced a 25 percent response rate.

When Hutson started the company in 2012, he had no idea what it would take to build this company. “What I did know is that people did not have an easy way to share photos with their incarcerated loved ones and that $15 was a ridiculous amount to spend on a single phone call,” wrote Hutson in a recent LinkedIn post. “So, we set out to build a solution.” #solutions

Livestream the Event of the Week

The Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest technical conference for women in computing, is taking place in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 4–6. The conference is sold out, but you can stream all keynote speakers here. #ghc2017 #gracehopper #womenintech

Listen of the Week

The deadline to renew DACA is Thursday, Oct. 5. If you don’t understand the policy or know someone impacted by the repeal, please listen to “Breaking Into Startups.” The podcast interviews Rocio Lopez, a product designer and DACA recipient. #DACA #breakingintostartups

Twitter Follow of the Week

The Plug Daily | The Plug Daily is the only daily tech newsletter covering founders and innovators of color.

Quick Hits

  • 21 Experts Are Talking Entrepreneurship at Black & Brown… (Technical.ly)
  • Democrats Must Stop Taking the Black Working Class for Granted (The Nation)
  • The Black Ceiling: Why Black Women Aren’t Making It to the…(Fortune)
  • US to Collect Social Media Data of Immigrants, Certain Citizens (Fortune)
  • The Leader Connecting Communities Through Tech (Crosscut)
  • As Google Fights Fake News, Voices on the Margins… (The New York Times)
  • Forget Chinese Investment in Africa, Here’s a Tech… (CNBC)
  • New Dell Exec’s Big Job: Upgrade Diversity at World’s… (Fast Company)
  • Generating Coding Fever in Tech-Loving Minority Teens (Nation Swell)
  • The Daily Show Investigates a $100/Month Subscription… (Slate)
  • Amazon Dollars Might Be Coming to Philly as Part of $300M… (Technical.ly)
  • Senegalese Music Startups Race to Be West Africa’s Spotify (U.S. News)
  • Avoiding the Avoidable: Why “Optional” Queer Content Isn’t… (Gamasutra)
  • Yes, You Get Wiser With Age (Nautilus)
  • New York City Doubles Its Contracts With Minority-Owned Firms (Bloomberg)
  • Meet the 14th African-American Female Founder to Raise $1M (Forbes)
  • Include U Challenge Day 11: What Do You Need? (Fortune)