PHILADELPHIA, May 12, 2015 — Students who need help learning could soon get that instruction from a mobile app that has been designed in state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams’ “High School Mobile Business App Competition.”

A two-student team from Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School will develop that new technology after being declared the winner of the senator’s event, May 7, at the Enterprise Center here.

Not only will students of all ages have a better tool to help them learn but the Boys Latin team is getting $5,000 worth of in-kind business services for digital media strategy, web design, and social media publishing once their app is developed. They will also receive a year of mentoring from IG Marketing.

For Jaquan Canty, one of the Boys Latin team members, Sen. Williams’ competition has opened the doors to future possibilities.

“It was a good learning experience,” Canty said. “I had a lot of fun doing it, and it was a stepping stone to something we can keep doing.”

Canty’s teammate, Kareem Owens, said he agreed.

“(The competition) gives high school students the chance to venture out and try new things; see what we want to do later in life,” the victorious Owens said.

Boys Latin came up with a “First Class Tutors” app that will link local tutors with students using GPS. With the technology, students will find the closest tutor to where they live, and in the field/topic of need.

While calling the competition fierce, Sen. Williams said he was happiest to learn how the challenges got students to focus and to think about their futures.

“The sense of accomplishment each student realized and enjoyed is gratifying,” Sen. Williams said. “Students were encouraged to really think about a problem they know about and then come up with a technological way to help their friends and others overcome similar problems.

“For many people – even adults – it’s easier to quit than it is to push past the obstacles and give in to the easy way out. The students who participated in this competition now know exactly what it takes to get more out of life, and that might be the biggest thing that I am most proud,” the senator said.

While teams from William L. Sayre High School and West Philadelphia High School did not finish with the grand prize, they still developed problem-solving methods that promise to help people.

Siani Paul, Sayre’s lone entrant, proposed a law services mobile app that would connect automobile crash victims to accident lawyers in their area using GPS.

“I can definitely see myself doing something like this in the future,” Paul said as she reflected on the competition.

Siani’s mom, Tamika Paul, said she watched her daughter blossom during the event.

“To give her this opportunity, to be able to create an app, and for her to do it all alone; being a young, black female I just think this is great for her,” Paul said with a smile.

The Sayre junior’s efforts – like West Philly’s – have earned each of them $2,500 worth of in-kind business donations for digital media strategy, web design, social media publishing, graphic design; and online web optimization from IG Marketing (Innovation Garden).

Like other finalists, junior West Philly High School team member Rickyeeh Bryant expressed satisfaction with the learning experience.

“I’m happy I did it. It was a great opportunity,” she said.

West Philly’s Qadeer Alkhatib agreed with his teammate.

“It was kind of hard out there. I was worried about my fellow classmates, especially how they were going to handle the situation,” Alkhatib said. “It’s not often you have an opportunity like this.”

Echoing Sen. Williams’ thought that the mobile app competition offered so much more than a first place trophy, Monica Gregory, mother of Boys Latin’s Kareem Owens said she was amazed at her son’s growth.

“I am so proud. I am overjoyed. My son is kind of a shy guy, so to see him up there, bringing something to life that he and his peers actually put together, I’m just so proud,” Gregory said. “This is such a tangible thing, and to see them say, ‘Hey, I have an idea and adults are listening to what I have to say.’ A lot of times, kids are overlooked and not paid attention to.”

Tariq Al-Nasir, CEO and founder of STEMnasium Learning Academy, said he’s ready for this to happen again.

“I think that what took place here was phenomenal. A big shout out to Sen. Anthony Williams for having the courage to engage these students where they are,” Al-Nasir said. “We saw a lot of students who were engaged in machine learning … and being able to translate that into a mobile app concept is tremendous.”

The following judges helped to make the mobile app competition a fair and worthy event:

Dr. Michelle L. Rogers, Drexel University

Dr. Jaime Bracey, Temple University

Tariq Al-Nasir, STEMnasium Mobility Solutions

Scott Wasserman, Artisan Mobile Experience Management

Andrew Buss, City of Philadelphia, Office of Innovation & Technology

Innovation Gardens/IG Marketing, Drexel University, Drexel Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Temple University, STEMnasium Mobility Solutions, Enterprise Center, and the University of Penn/Penn Center for Innovation/PCI Ventures were proud full-event sponsors of Sen. Williams’ High School Mobile Business App Challenge.

Of special note, the Enterprise Center’s Malyka Sankofa provided mentoring and coaching sessions to the students for their business plan development and presentations. The Enterprise Center was the venue for the mobile app finals.

Opulent Consulting LLC and Chariot Solutions sponsored breakfast and lunch for students during an earlier mentoring session.


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