On December 16th, 2023, Visionary Philanthropy Group (VPG), a non-profit serving at-risk youth, returning citizens, and residents in underserved communities, hosted its second Hackathon at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Trenton, NJ. The BreakBeatCode Hackathon, hosted by Google, boasted an attendance of 25 participants. The event was held in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop.

The Hackathon, which was live-streamed by Google, was hosted by Richard Achee, Creator and Program Leader of BreakBeatCode, Dale Allsopp, Director of Google Ads Responsibility Office, DJ Siege, the DJ for BreakBeatCode, and Aaron Wade, Creative Technologist for Google Creative Lab. The Hackathon also hosted a special guest star and hip hop legend, Supernatural, the GOAT of freestyle hip-hop.

The Hackathon, which was hosted from 11am to 3pm, was a half-day virtual event co-hosted by the BreakBeatCode team and partner organizations. By the conclusion of the Hackathon, students started to build a foundation in coding skills and music production. Participating students published their first music tracks using EarSketch, a free educational programming tool first developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Richard Achee, the founder of BreakBeatCode, taught the students coding through music throughout the duration of the Hackathon. Meanwhile, Supernatural offered a phenomenal performance, as students marveled at his free-styling abilities. While on the mic, Supernatural told the students to dig into their pockets and pull out whatever they had. One by one, the students gave Supernatural their wares and he effortlessly free-styled about the items over the beats made via the students’ coding.

Some other notable attendees of the Hackathon included Diego Maya, Founder of Latino Spirit Media and President of the US. Latino Affairs Initiative, Mrs. Teska Frisby, Council President of Trenton City Council, Arokia McNair, CEO of Modern Design Events, Deandrah Cameron, Chairwoman of Visionary Philanthropy Group Inc., Pastor Kevin Baldwin of Men for Hope, Harry Jackendoff, Project Manger of St. Michael’s Church, Ray Ingram, Owner of Dathil, and Neisha Kelly, volunteer for Visionary Philanthropy Group.

Per Nyene Baker, Founder of Visionary Philanthropy Group and mind behind the Hackathon, “This was a last minute event that I had to take advantage of for the our community. It was very stressful putting everything together, but with the great help of my Chairwoman, Deandrah Cameron, Superintendent James Earle, Pastor Darrell Armstrong of Shiloh Baptist Church, Harry Jackendoff, and Perry Shaw of Isles, I was able to make this event a success. Being able to see these kids eat some good food, be in a safe environment, and learn coding through music is a dream come true. All the hard work paid off – VPG ended our year off in a bang.”

Visionary Philanthropy Group will continue to provide its Violence Prevention and Intervention Program, along with its upcoming tech programs, Grow with Google and Girls Who Code in 2024. Both initiatives are backed by Google and Girls Who Code. If you’re interested in being a part of the fun, participants are encouraged to sign up at www.vpgrp.org.

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