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A child’s future should never be dictated by their zip code but is influenced by who and what they are exposed to.

At eight years old, Kalimah Priforce held a successful hunger strike against his Brooklyn group home to add more books to its library, which drew the attention of a community of Buddhist monks and nuns who privately tutored him until the age of 14.

He left the order as a lost irrepressible high schooler, but in Harlem, NY, he was discovered and nurtured by Dr. Lorraine Monroe, a world-class educator, whose mentorship sowed the seeds to him becoming a social innovator. By 16, Kalimah started his first computer tech company that primarily served low income neighborhoods and the elderly. In October of 2000, his teenage brother was shot and killed behind their childhood elementary school, inspiring Kalimah to form a lifelong commitment to transforming the lives of under-served kids towards mindfulness of their path and purpose.

Kalimah Priforce is the co-founder of Qeyno Labs, an education innovation startup that works with local partners and schools to close the STEM diversity gap in K-12 education by harnessing the interests of under-served youth into STEM career pathways using web and mobile-based technology and inclusive hackathons that promote mentorship and innovation in the app space. Qeyno recently launched the first hackathon focused on Black Male Achievement in Oakland and has been featured on Essence Magazine, Jet, and NPR’s “Tell Me More.”

Kalimah is a 2013 Echoing Green fellow and one of the driving forces behind The Hidden Genius Project, an Oakland-based program that trains black male youth in entrepreneurial thinking, software development, and user experience design and has been recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change in increasing STEM Access and Diversity.

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Kalimah on the recent Black Male Achievement event:

Our objective wasn’t to make history. We were, and still are, driven by a courageous conversation we wanted to have between Sillicon Valley and with communities affected by the Trayvon Martin tragedy. “Building A Silicon Valley that lives up to Dr. King’s Dream” was the over-arching vision for Startup Weekend Oakland: Black Male Achievement, but it was the question, “Could an app have saved Trayvon Martin?” that my startup, Qeyno Labs, wanted to publicly host in the form of a hackathon. Two Martins – one hackathon. […] Our efforts made “hackathon” a household word in the homes of hundreds of low opportunity youth. A thirteen year old girl from San Francisco East Bay pitched to her family a new app idea she mocked up on her college-ruled notebook. Teen brothers in Florida are hosting their own mini-hackathon in their grandmother’s living room. Professionals across the tech industry are no longer afraid to ask their colleagues, “how does this next product development stage affect under-served kids?” Parents are empowered to invest in an affordable laptop and will crowdfund its purchase among friends and the community.

Claire Topalian Claire Topalian
(@clairetopalian) Blog, Professional Writing, Communications and PR Specialist. I craft compelling, mission-driven content for companies and individuals that amplifies brand awareness, fosters community, and drives engagement. My experience includes work with tech startups, major corporations, and international non-profits. @clairetopalian

  • Christopher G. Cade

    This is awesome. I will spread the word among my sphere of influence.