Vanesa's fund for #Hackbright
My goal is to combine my social science and aid work background with Software Engineering. I want to develop software solutions for aid projects as I believe that technology is key to reaching more people in need and changing disparities in this world. To accomplish this, I need to take my programming skills to the next level .
I consider myself very lucky to be one of the 36 participants selected for the Hackbright Summer Software Engineer Fellowship 2015 and I will work hard to become the best Software Engineer I can be. I want to share my experience and my knowledge along the way so that other, expecially other women, can also feel empowered to know that they too can reach their goals, no matter how the odds are.
Only 22% of Software developers are female. This is an issue that can be overcome and I invite you to become part of my journey and to take part in helping more women into tech.
I need your support to make this happen!
Why Hackbright Academy?
Hackbright Academy addresses the lack of women in tech and exclusively trains women to become Software Engineers in an intense 10-week boot camp. The tuition for this program is very expensive: $15,000, as they offer an excellent curriculum, praised instructors and provide continuous support throughout the program with at least 3 mentors per student. This is why they are considered one of the leading Software Engineering programs in the United States.
There is no program like this in Europe, so I am flying all the way from Germany to San Francisco to take part in this one in a lifetime opportunity.
If the tuition is 13,500€ ($15,000), why are you raising 20,000€ ($22,000)?
Additional to the tuition money, I will need to raise funds for the flight ($1500), housing ( aprox. $2500 for 3 months in a shared dorm - San Francisco prices are crazy), food and transportation (aprox. $1500for the 3 months – e.g. taking the BART will cost $12/day). That amounts to $20,500, which my very low-income background would not allow me to pay. I also need to pay around $1500 as a Gofundme fee, totaling in $22,000.
Is there any other way to support you other than through donating?
Yes! I’m currently searching for a place to stay in San Francisco, preferably near Hackbright Academy. If you or someone you know can offer me free/affordable guestroom or a couch where I can crash after an exhausting day of coding, I would be eternally grateful!
Is it possible to send the donation directly to Hackbright?
Yes! You can send payments on my behalf directly to Hackbright. For a check or money order you simply have to write "For Vanesa Ortiz's Tuition" on it and mail it to:
PO Box 7775 #97529
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Our Team ChiCa (Twitter: @Team_ChiCa) consisted of: Amanda Meurer, Bethany Garcia, Stephanie Simon and I, all currently enrolled at Hackbright. With only 2 weeks of Hackbright training and 1 day and a half less time than the other 47 teams to work on our project, and with this being our FIRST HACKATHON EVER, we were completely surprised when WE WON the Scalability and Global Impact Prize! I still can't believe it!
Our ChiCa (short for ChildCare) app can help mothers in developing countries find affordable childcare in their trusted network and thus protect children from abuse. Many poor women living in slums face the challenge of having to go to work (usually far from home), but not being able to afford/or even find adequate childcare. They are thus forced to leave their young children (as young as just 2 years old!!) alone at home, in an unsafe environment. Young girls are especially at risk in these perilous situations. This is a severe and widespread issue affecting many women living in slums around the world.
ChiCa is accessible to women who may not have smart phones, as it is SMS- and call-based, and works on feature phones (as well as smart phones). Also, by focusing on voice input/output, versus text, we even reach women who may not be literate. We created ChiCa to connect mothers to exchange childcare at no cost to each other. The requesting mother brings extra food to the caregiver for their children and as an incentive to the caregiver.
You can see more details in our project description: http://challengepost.com/software/chica
and the work flow:
Here is a VIDEO of us presenting our app to the judges at ChimeHack2: http://youtu.be/P-n7dwUqV8s
In these 2 weeks at Hackbright, I have learned sooo much Python, fell in love with pair programming and met many talented women with whom I share my dream! Every day I am growing. The amazing experience at ChimeHack2 made it even clearer to me, that with the right mindset, persistence and engagement, we can create software that can impact and help many people in need.
We are going to finish building ChiCa and are looking forward to seeing it in action! The non-profit organization Kidogo ( http://www.kidogo.co/) has already contacted us and expressed their interest in introducing the app to an East-African community.
I'm getting closer and closer to reaching my goal of bringing technology nearer to good causes!
A big THANK YOU goes out to ChimeforChange for creating this wonderful initiative of engaging Software Engineers to create solutions for developing countries, all the mentors who gave us valuable guidance and advices, Twitter for hosting the ChimeHack2, Uber for supporting the event and us with the prize, Hackbright for giving us such an excellent training in just 2 weeks and the confidence to build an app and also TWILIO for creating the amazing technology that enables ChiCa!!
My biggest THANK YOU goes out to all of my supporters! Thank you so much for supporting my cause and please continue to spread my crowdfunding page so that my message can reach more people!
YOU MADE THIS POSSIBLE!
One of our instructors, who is also the program director, Joel Burton, gave us a great introduction to the program, explained in detail what lies ahead of us and took time to answer all of our questions. We got split into 6 groups with Harry Potter style names (yep, I made it into Gryffindor!) and started pair-programming right away! My partner Bethany and I were a great team and were able to solve the Blockly challenges ( https://blockly-games.appspot.com/maze). These were intended to bring us into a programming mindset. After a break, we had a lecture about command line, which we could put into practice afterwards, again in pair-programming mode.
Classes finished at 6pm. It was a pretty intense day, mostly because of all the new experiences and people I got to meet. We also get homework to do every day and assignments for the weekends, so I'm looking at some very intense next 10 weeks. It's going to be awesome!
I'll write a little bit more about how I arrived to San Francisco and what I experienced on my first days tomorrow. Stay tuned and thank you for your support!
Big hug from San Francisco!
*** Various people have reported that the gofundme donation link is not working properly. If you wish to donate, please do this to my Paypal account:
and I will list your donation manually! You can also send me a message and we'll figure something out***
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The past 11 days have been incredibly eventful! I arrived safely to Los Angeles and met with the very happy new owner of the unique "Vergiss" art piece, which was one of my exceptional rewards, courtesy of Fin DAC - Thank you! He was able to pick it up at the C.A.V.E. Gallery on Abbot Kinney Blvd, where Fin DAC is currently exposing his first art show (visit if you can: his work is amazing!). I was also very fortunate to be part of the Fin DAC's art show opening and to see his new urban art master piece inspired by me, located on 1130 Abbot Kinney Blvd!
I then traveled to San Diego, submerged in beautiful memories by visiting San Diego State University (good times!) and reconnected with my dear friends.
I feel these past days have given me an additional foundation of gratitude, emphasising how very fortunate I am to be able to walk the amazing path that lies ahead of me. When times get hard and stressful during the intense Hackbright program, I will nourish from these beautiful memories.
Tomorrow, June 22, a friend and I will start a road trip up to San Francisco. We will camp on our way there and visit Sequoia National Park. Our goal is to reach San Francisco by June 24, so that I have a few days to prepare for my first day of class, which will be on June 29. I'm so excited and can't wait to meet my fellow students at Hackbright!
However, I'm a bit worried that I'm still pretty far away from reaching my funding goal.
Please support me by spreading this campaign to as many people as you can, so that more find out about this wonderful adventure and hopefully, more women will feel inspired and confident to pursuit careers in tech!
Thank you all for your support!