Registration is now open for Zillow’s second annual HBCU Housing Hackathon for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The program, in collaboration with United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Amplify 4 Good, helps HBCU students develop critical tech and business skills as they compete for nearly $90,000 in cash and prizes, while also gaining the opportunity to interview for paid internships.
During the weeklong Zillow HBCU Housing Hackathon, beginning September 9, students will learn about the real estate industry, Zillow offerings, housing data, and various application programming interfaces. Then they will develop and pitch tech solutions to help consumers overcome obstacles on their journey to find a home. Student teams will present their ideas to Zillow and tech-industry leaders, with top teams receiving cash and prizes for themselves and their universities.
The first Zillow HBCU Housing Hackathon, in 2021, drew 150 students, representing 17 HBCUs. A team of four Morehouse College students won first place and a $20,000 prize for creating “Reliby,” an app that uses machine learning to predict increases in rent and utility costs at a specific address over time, thus giving renters early warning about looming affordability challenges. Zillow also donated $25,000 to Morehouse College’s computer science program as part of the first-place prize.
“The caliber of the tech solutions that the teams presented was impressive. Students leaned on their academic careers and life experiences to come up with some amazing ideas. It was great to be part of the program, and it made me excited for what’s to come for our industry and tech as a whole with these future leaders,” said David Beitel, Zillow chief technology officer. “We’re thrilled to have the United Negro College Fund and Amplify 4 Good joining the event as co-hosts for the second year. Mentors from these organizations help our students further develop their skills through workshops, hands-on enrichment, mentorship and teamwork.”
Teams can have as many as four members, and although registration is open to HBCU students in any degree program, each team must have at least two members enrolled in computer science, computer engineering or a related program. Students interested in participating in the Zillow HBCU Housing Hackathon should visit http://www.zillowhbcuhackathon.com to learn more and register.
At the end of the challenge, team finalists will pitch their solutions to a panel of judges. The first-place team will receive a $20,000 cash award, split among its members, and Zillow will donate $25,000 to its school’s computer science program. Second- and third-place teams will receive $12,000 and $6,000 cash awards, respectively. Students from the top three teams also will receive new laptops and textbook gift cards. All eligible hackathon participants interested in a role at Zillow will have an opportunity to interview for an internship.
“It’s awesome to conceptualize a project that could help a lot of people and not only win the hackathon and receive prizes that are great for my team, but also help earn a donation for our college,” said Paul Lockett, a member of last year’s winning team and a 2022 Morehouse College graduate. “We had a plan, we executed on it and we are so happy we had this amazing opportunity to work and learn with Zillow.”
Chad Womack, Ph.D., vice president of National STEM Programs and Initiatives at UNCF, will be on the panel of judges for the HBCU Housing Hackathon. Womack also co-founded Black Tech Ventures, a venture tech firm created to empower African American tech innovators and startup entrepreneurs, with a focus on fostering an entrepreneurial mindset on HBCU campuses.
“The UNCF is proud to be back for a second year, partnering with Zillow on such an impactful program for our students,” said Womack. “Our HBCU campus connections allow us to reach students who may not otherwise consider such a challenge. We’re working to diversify the talent within STEM industries, and programs like Zillow’s HBCU Housing Hackathon help us do just that.”
Womack will be joined on the judging panel by Zillow and tech-industry leaders, including Eric Bailey, Zillow vice president, Experience Design; Jennifer Butler, Zillow head of Government Relations and Public Affairs; Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president, Corporate Social Responsibility; Tiffany Dockery, Etsy director of Product Management; Damien Peters, founder, Wealth Noir; and Jonathan Rabb, founder and CEO, Watch The Yard.
Registration for the hackathon closes Sept. 6. To learn more or register, visit http://www.zillowhbcuhackathon.com.