Introducing the Black and Brilliant & Codecademy AI Accelerator


Here at Codecademy, we believe that the future is brighter when the power of technology is equally attainable by all. That’s why we’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Black and Brilliant on an Artificial Intelligence Accelerator program, starting March 15, 2021.

Training a new generation of AI superstars

The Black and Brilliant Advocacy Network is united in creating a more diverse workforce and this 10-week AI Accelerator course seeks to upskill the next generation of AI Superstars. “AI is both a once in a generation opportunity, and a threat for Black and Brown communities,” says Black and Brilliant co-founder Tony Effik. “Now is the time to prepare a new generation of Black and Brown superstars for the world of AI to benefit from the upside and to also protect from the downside.”

“We want to upskill people who have potential to be the next generation of AI Superstars — regardless of their backgrounds or educational attainment. This ranges from people that did not graduate High School, to those with advanced STEM degrees looking to change lanes. We believe in human potential. We believe people with aptitude and drive can achieve great things when given this kind of opportunity.”

Codecademy CEO Zach Sims shares, “When I met Tony, we connected over our shared belief that education can transform people’s lives. That’s why we’re thrilled to collaborate with the Black and Brilliant team on this one-of-a-kind course, which will empower students with both the technical skills and confidence to accomplish big things in AI.”

Participants will make their way through Codecademy’s Data Science curriculum to hone their programming and data science skills. Plus, participants will explore topics including AI Ethics and Social Justice, the Business of AI, and User Experience with the assistance of industry coaches.

Coaches include industry leaders in AI, Data Science, Emerging Experiences, Research, and Design including Marc Maleh, Quincy Olatunde, Toju Duke, Dr. Claudia Igbrude, Matthew Adeiza, Bashir Mohammed, Mahir Yavuz, Sakinah Adebola Abdul-Ibiyeye, Michael Horn, and others.

How to participate

Interested in taking part? Fill out the application to let us know more about your previous technical experience and why you want to participate.

Ten applicants with previous technical experience will be selected to participate in the full program with one-on-one mentoring from industry coaches. There will also be a self-guided second track for 100 applicants without existing technical experience that are looking for an on-ramp into the world of AI and machine learning.

Applications for the course are open here through the end of the month.

Learn more about Black and Brilliant

The Black and Brilliant advocacy network was started in 2020 by Tony Effik, a global managing director at Google and adjunct professor at Columbia University, and his wife, educator Perky Noah-Effik. Check out the interview below for more from Tony on the organization and the inspiration behind the AI Accelerator course.

Q: What inspired you to start Black and Brilliant?

A: My wife and I have always been passionate about inclusion, but we worked in small private ways. Last year when George Floyd happened that was a turning point for us. My 13 year old daughter was distraught and we were giving her “The Talk” all Black parents give to their children. We were tired of it. We marched but felt that was not enough.

Perky and I did a Linkedin post debunking the myth of the lack of Black talent out there by tagging people we believed were Black and Brilliant, and the hashtag went viral across Linkedin. A core of around 100 of us jumped on a call and started to organize. That was the genesis of the organization.

Q: What have you focused on with Black and Brilliant so far?

A: We’ve focused on being a kind of virtual mentor by sharing insights and access. That’s manifested in the form of panels, networking events, and content.

We believe there are cheat codes for every career and industry, so we share ideas about those from people who have broken through the middle and have ideas to share. These cheat codes and careers are usually hidden. I talk about careers behind fences. You can see them, but can’t access them. Cheat codes and allies help you get over the fence and start to dismantle the fence.

Breaking Through the Middle is one of our key themes. Too many talented individuals never ever make it through the middle, which creates problems at the top and at the bottom.

Another key theme is AI as a key industry and career path. We did several live events on Are You ready For AI? last year. [These events can be viewed here and here.]

Q: Why did you choose a course on AI specifically?

AI is generating huge interest in how it will impact the “future of work and jobs.” I’ve been fascinated with AI since I was a child reading about Marvin Minsky at Media Lab and as a child attempting to code a chess game on my Commodore CP64.

AI is too important and too big to be ignored. When we say AI, we use the name liberally to also embrace specific disciplines in machine learning and data analytics — it depends on where you on-ramp from.

There will be jobs across the whole economy impacted by AI from new jobs in project management to law, analytics, and strategy, through to jobs in systems, as well as in engineering.

To learn more, visit the Black and Brilliant website or join The Black and Brilliant Advocacy Network on LinkedIn.

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