Detroiters Recognized as Finalists for Innovative Ideas for Digital Era

Jake Neher/WDET

Lavea Brachman, Vice President of Programs, Ralph Wilson Foundation

The MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) and its North America Region Collaborator, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, have announced the 2018 IIC North America Finalists. The MIT IIC was launched three years ago to recognize and celebrate organizations around the world that are using technology to solve key issues in society. The ultimate goal is to create more broadly shared prosperity by reinventing the future of work in the digital era.

This year, the North America Challenge will be hosted in Detroit at the College for Creative Studies’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education on September 27th. Hosted by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the IIC will give attendees the opportunity to hear from finalists that are using technology to improve economic opportunity for low- and moderate-income earners.

During the event, North America finalists will pitch to a 12-member Selection Panel, as well as a local audience of 300-plus members of the economic growth, education, and entrepreneurship community. The Selection Panel will announce which four of these innovators wins $20,000 each and will progress to the Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT on November 8. The eight remaining finalists will each win $5,000.

This year, two of the finalists are from Detroit.

Apps Without Code is a global education platform that teaches entrepreneurs how to build profitable app businesses without writing any code, with a focus on Black and Latino populations who lack equal access to STEM education.

The company’s CEO, Detroit native Tara Reed, joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson, along with IIC Executive Producer Devin Cook, and Ralph Wilson, Jr. Foundation Vice President of Programs Lavea Brachman.

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC)

Tara Reed, CEO of Apps Without Code

The second Detroit finalist, Detroit Community Technology Project, uses and develops technology rooted in community needs that strengthens human connections to each other and the planet.  The project works toward demystifying technology and expanding digital literacy and access to community wireless networks in Detroit neighborhoods.

The MIT Challenge is a great opportunity to spark a deeper dialogue around what the future of work can look like in our communities,” says Lavea Brachman, vice president of programs at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

We look forward to lifting up these Finalists and their innovative solutions, while also exploring the ways Detroit and the surrounding region are addressing the challenges of a rapidly changing workforce landscape and evolving training needs.”

Andrew McAfee, the Co-Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, says he’s seeing this year’s finalists gives him hope “about the future of work in North America.”

We congratulate the Finalists and look forward to promoting their solutions that are working in the region today,” he adds.

Following is the list of the 2018 MIT IIC North America Finalists in each category:

Skills Development & Opportunity Matching:

  • CareAcademy (Boston, MA) provides online professional development to teach and upskill caregivers, providing opportunities for millions of workers to prepare for the future of healthcare without allowing language, income or status to be a barrier.
  • Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (Baltimore, MD) provides an online platform - Contratados.org - that builds worker power in the recruitment process and generates a self-supporting community of workers to end recruitment and employment abuse in temporary work programs.
  • PAIRIN (Denver, CO) accelerates development of soft skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity. Its assessment tool matches people to optimal job profiles and training programs and identifies skills gaps while providing tools and resources to assist people with barriers to employment become well-prepared, gainfully employed, and self-sufficient. 

Income Growth & Job Creation:

  • AnnieCannons (Oakland, CA) transforms survivors of human trafficking into software professionals, helping them sustain a lifetime free from exploitation.
  • Bak USA (Buffalo, NY) is re-localizing American manufacturing, creating access to meaningful technology careers and teaching skills to break cycles of inequality.
  • ULTRA Testing (New York, NY) is an onshore IT startup unlocking the potential of autistic talent by proving that neurodiversity can be a competitive advantage in business.

Financial Inclusion:

  • Fig Tech Inc. (New York, NY) works with non-profits to provide credit building products that bridge families from income volatility to financial stability by providing emergency credit to individuals, putting clients on a path to mainstream credit.
  • The Financial Clinic (Brooklyn, NY) operates an interactive online platform - Change Machine - built by practitioners for practitioners that dramatically increases the impact of financial coaching and services to America’s working poor.
  • Forge Technologies (San Francisco, CA) develops software that gives part-time, hourly employees work schedule flexibility to allow for better work-life balance and gives workers the opportunity to increase income by working for multiple employers.

Technology Access:

  • Apps Without Code (Detroit, MI) is a global education platform that teaches entrepreneurs how to build profitable app businesses without writing any code, with a focus on Black and Latino populations who lack equal access to STEM education.
  • Detroit Community Technology Project (Detroit, MI) uses and develops technology rooted in community needs that strengthens human connections to each other and the planet.  The project works toward demystifying technology and expanding digital literacy and access to community wireless networks in Detroit neighborhoods.
  • EveryoneOn (Washington, DC) has created the “Travelocity” for affordable internet, connecting Americans to low-cost internet services through its online “Offer Locator Tool.”

Image credit: MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC)

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

detroittoday@wdet.org  

We want to hear from you.
Share your thoughts and opinions: