We’re excited to shine a spotlight on STEM Gems who are breaking down barriers and playing their part in eliminating the gender gap that exists in STEM today. Forty-four extraordinary women are highlighted in the STEM Gems book, but that doesn’t come close to the number of STEM Gem role models out in the world. Today’s spotlight shines on Felecia Hatcher, Founder of Black Tech Week and Co-founder of Code Fever. Read more about how she has dedicated her life to turning kids and young adults from undeserved communities into tech entrepreneurs by exposing them to opportunities in technology.
Who: Author and Social Entrepreneur Felecia Hatcher is the Founder of Black Tech Week and Co-founder of Code Fever – initiatives developed to aid in increasing tech entrepreneurship funding and training to underserved Florida communities.
What: Hatcher was a “C” student in high school who used her creativity to win over $100,000 in college scholarships. With her experience and know-how on personal marketability, she launched her first business, Urban Excellence, as a college freshman at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. During this time, she created and implemented innovative college prep programs for companies like DeVry University, the YMCA and the Urban League. An early exit from college led Hatcher to a successful career organizing experiential marketing and social media campaigns around the country for tech companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, just to name a few.
When: In April 2013, Hatcher and Co-founder/husband Derick Pearson launched Code Fever, a Miami-based startup and coding school that focuses on getting low opportunity/low income teens and young adults introduced to technology, innovation and creativity skills training with the goal of creating more tech startups founded by people of color.
How: Code Fever’s mission strives to inspire more underserved minority students between the ages of 13 to 21 to code, build and create technology enterprises within their communities, close the gap in technology education and become leaders in STEM fields by increasing the number of young startup founders. The school offers weekend trainings plus winter and summer boot camps sessions. Programming includes Saturday Launch a Start Up-in-a-Day Trainings, 6-week to 12-week summer camps, Parent Tech Ed events and Community Start Up events. In 2014, Code Fever established Blacktech Week – a weeklong series of events during Black History Month that celebrates innovators of color while striving to change the narrative surrounding the Black community by replacing it with innovation, creativity and technology.
Why: Hatcher wrote an article on The White House blog sharing her reason for developing Code Fever. The majority of today’s youth have “a mindset shaped by materialism and the consumption of technology with a total disregard to understanding tech, becoming technology producers and community change agents,” said Hatcher. Together with her husband Derick Pearson, they recognized the lack of tech programs available to guide students from the inception of an idea to the end result of a tangible product. Additionally, parental involvement in these programs was seemingly nonexistent even though studies have shown that parental involvement plays a major part in the academic success of students by providing a source of direction and inspiration. Being that these problems are more prevalent in African American and Caribbean communities, creating Code Fever directly tackled these problems and helped to train African American youth in the areas of technology and entrepreneurship.
Hatcher’s contributions to STEM have made her the recipient of a multitude of awards and honors. In 2014, she received the White House Champion of Change for STEM Educational Excellence Access and Diversity for African Americans. She was also awarded Black Enterprise’s Innovator of the Week and Essence Magazine Tech Master. As a bonus, here’s a fun fact about Hatcher that isn’t directly STEM related: She has been featured on the NBC Today Show, The Cooking Channel, and Grio’s 100 African American’s Making History for her wildly successful gourmet popsicle and ice cream catering company, Feverish Ice Cream & Gourmet Pops. The idea for this company came about after she fell flat on her face while attempting to chase an ice cream truck in heels. From there, the company’s vegan friendly and spiked popsicles were featured at events for companies like Forever 21, Google and Air BnB and were available for retail and private label manufacturing. This is one Woman in STEM who wears multiple hats!
Want to learn about more influential Women in STEM? Secure your very own copy of STEM Gems: How 44 Women Shine in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, And How You Can Too! This vibrant, full-color 8.5″x8.5″ square book exposes girls and young women to the many and varied options within STEM, gives them female STEM role models and helps them create their own unique paths.