Elza, Grace, Kairavi, Kayla and Thanishka grew up sharing a playground. Now, they’ve shared a boardroom as well.
Although middle school took them to different schools, their passion for tech and coding – as well as some covert planning by their mothers – kept them connected. The five girls make up #WeAre, one of nearly 70 teams who participated in an app challenge put on by Technovation[MN].
Through the challenge, teams were tasked with identifying a social problem and creating an app to help solve it. Team #WeAre’s app, for example, focused on ways to provide clean water to the world in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: poverty, the environment, peace, equality, education and health.
“These girls are tackling pretty big problems and doing it gracefully,” said Shawn Stavseth, executive director of Technovation[MN]. “The community overall is extremely supportive and as long as we can keep these girls engaged we’ll have a pretty extraordinary workforce in a couple of years.”
Technovation, a program that is part of the national nonprofit Iridescent, focuses on teaching middle school and high school age girls how to build and launch apps as part of a state, regional and national competition.
U.S. Bank sponsored seven teams in the Twin Cities, mentoring the girls in areas such as business planning and cybersecurity. The bank was also a sponsor in San Francisco.
In advance of the Minnesota state-level competition, Appapalooza, the seven teams visited the U.S. Bank boardroom to practice by presenting their ideas to U.S. Bank Chairman, President and CEO Andy Cecere, Vice Chair of Technology and Operation Services Jeff von Gillern and Chief Innovation Officer Dominic Venturo.
“The problems and app solutions the girls presented on are exactly the things we are talking about at the bank every single day,” said Cecere (pictured above). “The girls were terrific. I could not have done this at their age. Our future is absolutely bright.”
While the #WeAre team was not one of the winners at Appapalooza, three U.S. Bank-sponsored teams did advance: Falcon Ridge Middle School teams Cryptic Coders and Black Blitz, and De LaSalle High School team Comida Club & Co. They advance to a regional online competition. Finalists from that round will compete in August in Silicon Valley, CA, at the 2018 World Pitch Summit.
Susan Beatty works in public affairs and communications with U.S. Bank.