This Startup Empowers Youth Of Color To Tackle Social Issues With Technology

Enza Academy, a youth innovation and leadership incubator, recently held a free, five-day residential program at Stanford University for 26 youth of color to brainstorm technology solutions that address issues in their communities.

For five days, these high school students participated in an intensive bootcamp with an emphasis on coding, business development and social justice. The program culminated with a pitch event last Sunday night where teams of five students presented technology-based solutions that could make an impact in justice, health, education, community or inequality.

Judges for the event included Draper Fisher Jurvetson Senior Associate Blair Silverberg, YouTube Scaled Education Lead Sylvia Duran Chen, YouTube Business Lead of Creator Communities Kendra Desrosiers, TechCrunch Head of Product Nicole Wilke, Kapor Center Grant Manager Tiffany Price and Base Ventures Managing Director Erik Moore.

They gave the $1,500 grand prize to the team behind EduText, a digital textbook library for students to read and learn collaboratively. Second place went to an app called She2U, which aims to make it easier for colleges and universities to identify and recruit female athletes. And third place went to Culturize, a platform for sparking, sharing and discovering culturally relevant events like protests.

“We believe that all children are born with creative potential,” Enza Academy’s Brandon Hill tells me. “Young women and young people of color who are especially creative, they often get the least opportunities to develop their innate potential. We look at structural inequalities throughout the United States, and young people of color and women are marginalized. It’s a multitrillion-dollar tragedy. It’s also a human rights thing. Everyone should have the right to be creative. How many world-changing ideas are we missing out on when the most opportunities are given to mostly straight, white males?”

For the past year, Enza has been working to provide underrepresented, high-potential students with the skills and resources needed to tap into their own potential through events like hackathons and empowerment workshops in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Enza Academy hopes to open a school and eventually a network of schools across the nation that focus on youth of color, and particularly those who are low-income. In the meantime, students who want to get involved can head over to Enza’s website or email