One Man’s Mission To Teach More People Of Color How To Code

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Antoine Patton is on a mission: He wants to teach more people of color to code. His goal is to help 2,020 people learn how to code by the year 2020. Patton wants to increase gender and racial diversity in the tech industry. “If more people of color had easier access to learn how to code, program, project manage…then there would be a lot more people of color in tech,” Patton asserts. “[There would be] a wider pool of people for employers to select from and hence a lot more diversity.” It’s no secret that diversity is lacking in the tech industry. When looking at the demographics, women, Blacks, and Hispanics are grossly underrepresented. One study found that 70.6% of computers programmers in the United States were White. The 2018 diversity report in major tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook reflect similar findings. And while it is commonly understood that the STEM field lags behind in this area, it has been difficult for companies to make strides toward increased representation.

Antoine Patton teaching his daughter, Jay Jay, how to code.Antoine Patton

In an effort to close this gap, Patton has made it his mission to teach others how to code, offering free online classes. Patton first learned to code in 2011 while incarcerated. He found a book on JavaScript and began teaching himself. He was then mentored by another inmate who was proficient in computer programming. Patton’s mentor made him promise to pass the knowledge he shared with him onto others once he was released from prison. Patton stayed true to his word and began sharing his knowledge of coding with others. Before becoming the chief technology officer at his software consulting firm, Patton worked at three different tech companies and had over 50 freelance jobs. He teaches the coding courses through an online school he is developing called Unlock Academy. The purpose of Unlock Academy is to teach others about the tech industry and to educate people about the essentials of programming. The coding classes are taught in a live and interactive environment, that allows students to ask questions. After completing the course, the participants are connected with business owners who can provide internship opportunities. Patton is adamant about teaching kids to code at an early age. He taught his 10-year old daughter how to code and she was even able to build an app for him. “When I was released from prison, I started teaching my daughter how to code…my charity had a website but I never got around to building the mobile app. In November 2017, my daughter took the initiative to start building the app and was done building it by February 2018. It was live in the app store by April 2018.”

Research supports the benefits of teaching skills, like coding, at an early age. The Center for Childhood Creativity came out with a 2018 report on the roots of STEM success. The report indicates that an early focus on STEM learning can positively impact a child’s brain architecture and thinking skills. There are also several documented advantages to teaching coding in the classroom. Students who know how to code are better equipped for the technology revolution. In addition, teaching students how to code helps them develop and harness skills that will make them more marketable on their job search. More schools should consider making coding a regular part of the curriculum.

Increasing diversity in the STEM field goes beyond simply hiring and retaining more diverse talent. It starts at an early age. Research indicates that for the majority of scientists, their interest in science began well before middle school. Being able to spark a child’s interest in the STEM field and offer opportunities for them to grow and develop that interest, may be the missing ingredient to fostering more diversity in the tech industry. “It’s important to teach our youth how to code. They will out-consume us when it comes to mobile device usage so it’s critical we start teaching them how this technology they love so dearly is created and maintained…we want them to willingly grab the torch and lead the digital era we live in,” Patton says.


Credit card vs. Debit card – Which one should you use

Credit card vs. Debit card - Which one should you use

On the surface, credit cards and debit cards may appear to be the same thing – they are just plastic that you use to purchase something. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Before filling a credit card application, you should understand the primary difference between the two and their importance.

Simply put, a debit card is what you use when you want to spend your own money, whereas, in case of a credit card, you borrow money from a lender to pay for your expenses. Since you are borrowing money in the latter case, the lender will charge you interest if you fail to clear your debt in specified time.

Needless to mention, opting for a debit card seems like the smarter thing to do. You don’t have to worry about paying your dues and falling into an endless abyss of debts. However, if things were that simple, credit card companies wouldn’t be thriving. There are a plethora of reasons why you should get a credit card and if used responsibly, it can be an asset instead of a liability.

Building Your Credit

When you go to apply for a personal loan or home loan, the first thing that a lender will look at is your credit history and credit score. If you are fairly new to the world of credit, then it is quite likely that you will not have a credit history. As a result, lenders will be reluctant to sanction your loan because they do not know how apt you are at dealing with credit.

That’s why, credit cards serve as an efficient method of building a good credit history. A credit card is a boon if you use it to make purchases that you can afford to pay for in time. Not only does this boost your credit score, but it also teaches you how to handle credit responsibly.

As long as you clear your dues in a timely manner, lenders will no problem in increasing your credit limit and even approving big loans. This is why more and more millennials are choosing to apply for a credit card.

However, this is not possible with a debit card simply because there is no credit involved there.

Exciting Cashback and Reward Points

Credit card companies thrive on people who borrow from them. In order to attract new customers, these companies regularly come up with cashback and reward offers, pertaining to shopping, lifestyle, fine dining, travel, et cetera. In fact, many customers are not even aware that their credit card comes with these features!

Even though debit card companies are not far behind when it comes to such offers, the options here are not as comprehensive as those found with credit cards. For instance, if you are a frequent traveler, then you can opt for a miles card offered by almost all the major credit card companies.

These cards, if used wisely, can help you save a great deal of money in the long run.

Useful, When on a Vacation

Credit cards can make your traveling experience a whole lot better owing to their worldwide acceptance. Many car rental services and hotel chains prefer that their customers pay with a credit card. Similarly, when in a foreign land, it will be easier for you to use your credit card than your debit card. However, keep in mind that certain international transaction fees may be levied every time you make a purchase.

If you are planning a foreign trip and you don’t have a credit card, it is imperative that you apply for a card soon.

Speaking of Fees…

Credit card providers often charge a bevy of fees like annual fee, cash advance fee, balance transfer fee, finance charge, foreign transaction fee, et cetera. Therefore, it is advisable to read the fine print and understand these charges carefully before signing the credit card application.

This is one area where debit card comes out on top. Debit cards have a very little fee (in many cases, it’s zero!) which is why thrifty customers prefer to use a debit card. Although, debit cards lack the perks which are often found on credit cards.

Self-restraint is Important with Credit Cards

With debit cards, consumers tend to be quite frugal since the cards are linked directly to their savings account. With every deduction, they are losing money from their account – which, in turn, keeps them highly disciplined with their expenditures.

However, with credit cards, it is very easy to lose track of expenses and find yourself in a web of debts. The temptation of credit has proven to be a financial nightmare for many, which is why, it is important to be careful when using a credit card. This is the primary reason why many people prefer debit cards over credit cards – controlled spending.

The bottom line is, credit cards are useful when it comes to building a good credit history and boosting your credit score. This is important if you are looking to avail a loan at some point in your life. On the other hand, debit cards come in handy when you need to control your expenses. Depending on your lifestyle, you can choose between the two variants and decide which one is suitable for you.


One part store, one part lab: Mall owner debuts Brandbox, a new way to fill vacant space

The inside of Macerich's Tysons Corner Center in Virginia. 

One of the biggest mall owners in the U.S. has come up with a way to fill empty storefronts, and it’s offering young brands plenty of perks to move in.

Macerich this weekend is launching a concept known as “Brandbox” at Tysons Corner Center just outside Washington, D.C., one of the most valuable shopping malls in the U.S. There, it will house six brands, including apparel retailer Naadam and makeup company Winky Lux, to start, for a period of six to 12 months. Each brand will have its own mini store inside a roughly 11,000-square-foot space, with new retailers funneling in and out each year. The mall owner says it will provide fixtures like shelving, data on foot traffic, RFID tagging for inventory, marketing and even help finding staffing — the retailers simply need to show up and pay rent.

The rollout of Brandbox comes as more than 140 million square feet of retail space has been shuttered across the U.S. in malls and shopping centers already this year, according to real estate research group CoStar. That’s easily more than the 105 million square feet of space that closed in 2017. Closures by Sears and Toys R Us are leaving a blank canvas at many malls for new uses like these so-called pint-sized and modern-day department stores.

Macerich plans to take Brandbox to its malls in Santa Monica, California, Philadelphia and Scottsdale, Arizona, next.

The idea could eventually end up, in some form or fashion, at all of its malls across the U.S. It also says it envisions adding multiple Brandbox locations inside some shopping centers, where there’s more demand for shopping smaller retailers over department stores.

“I think what we’re learning as an industry is that we need to have modular space that can be reconfigured,” Macerich Chief Digital Officer Kevin McKenzie told CNBC. The physical walls within each Brandbox will be movable, he said. Sometimes two companies might fill the space, sometimes seven.

DKNY, an already established fashion brand, will also be inside Brandbox at Tysons Corner Center at launch to test a new concept. McKenzie said the space can be a way for even traditional retailers to try out a new market before investing in establishing a permanent presence there.

The space also can help retailers born online come to life. This is a key goal, according to McKenzie, who said it is not only about how to fill empty space at the mall left behind from Claire’s, Gap and others closing stores.

“These companies don’t have the real estate groups like Lululemon has, Tesla has or Apple has,” he said. “Traditionally you get a broker, a store designer and a lawyer. You figure out what technology you want to put in. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong that these companies can’t afford.”

Brands are appreciative of the real estate and the perks.

“We view Brandbox as a safe environment to test our brand in a mall environment,” said Matt Scanlan, the co-founder and CEO of Naadam, which will be in Tysons Corner Center. The technology Macerich is offering is a “major perk,” he said. “They have set us up with retail technologies and subscription software that are normally inefficient to install for a pop-up but can be transformative in terms of learnings.”

In addition to what Macerich is doing, there are plenty other examples of this trend popping up across the country.

A concept called “The Gathering Shops” opened earlier this month at Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey, the largest mall in the state. There, it houses about 15 brands — many of them local to the area and just starting to raise awareness — within a 4,800-square-foot space at the mall. Similar to Macerich, The Gathering Shops is offering point-of-sale systems, staff, security and marketing to the tenants in the space, which are expected to rotate every few months.

A company called Fourpost just opened spaces for brands at Mall of America in Minnesota and West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada — both of which are run by Triple Five Group.

Fourpost founder Mark Ghermezian said he plans to roll out a handful of additional locations in 2019. Similar to The Gathering Shops, Fourpost will offer its tenants fixtures, Wi-Fi and point-of-sale hardware to make the move from the web to bricks-and-mortar retail as painless as possible. Fourpost’s investors include Warby Parker co-founder Dave Gilboa and Parachute founder Ariel Kaye, putting the concept in good hands with already well-established e-commerce brands.

“This is disrupting the department store model,” Ghermezian said. “I want it to be like you are walking through story by story, getting that individual experience on a per-brand basis.”

Another company that bills itself as “a new type of department store” — Neighborhood Goods — opens in a shopping center in Plano, Texas this month. At launch, the space will include born-online sneaker brand Stadium Goods, Walmart’s new bedding brand Allswell and men’s wellness brand Hims.

“We want to encourage these brands to be playful, somewhere they haven’t opened yet, where they don’t have so many pressures on the economics side,” Neighborhood Goods founder Matt Alexander said.

Macerich is uniquely the first major mall operator to announce plans to roll out a concept like this at a large scale, and one that’s been incubated from within the company. Rival Simon has been testing a rotating pop-up exhibit called “The Edit” at Roosevelt Field mall in New York, but has yet to open other locations.