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FRSHWV will kick off Philly Tech Week 2023 by encouraging young people to pursue careers in tech

"We're trying to capture these kids while they're developing their decision about what they want to be," one organizer said of the May 4 and 5 event.

Attendees at a past FRSHWV. (Courtesy photo)
What better way to kick off 10 days of future-focused tech programming than with an event focused on the technologists of tomorrow?

FRSHWV, pronounced “fresh wave,” is a two-day festival focused on emerging technology, music and giving young people access to resources that could kickstart a career. This May 4 and 5 event will serve as the official kickoff to Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast 2023, at the University City Science Center.

Dyshaun Hines, co-producer of FRSHWV, told Technical.ly this event supports the goal of developing tech talent that is already here and building a school-to-career pipeline in Philadelphia. The event’s organizers don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but rather highlight existing resources and programs supporting young people interested in technology in Philadelphia. Partners include the Science Center, IF Lab and the Blues Babe Foundation.

“We saw we were able to create an event that fulfills a gap in the market as far as identifying tech talent in youth, tech skills or transferable skills in youth that can later push that position them into scalable tech careers,” Hines said.

FRSHWV has been an annual event since 2019. It was started as a way to expose youth to technology and introduce them to people who can help them pursue technology, music and gaming in the future, according to Aisha Winfield, co-producer of FRSHWV.

Over two days during PTW23, FRSHWV will feature workshops, vendors, performances and local resources. Programming topics include AI, Web3, the metaverse, machine learning, music production, music marketing, digital marketing, blockchain, and virtual and augmented reality.

“A big part of FRSHWV is that we’re very future focused in our content focus,” said Anthony Howard, co-producer and creative director of FRSHWV. “Not where we are now, but where will we be in a decade and try to position our kids to be ready for that future.”

FRSHWV flyer

FRSHWV event image. (Courtesy image)

At the same time as the in-person activities, there will also be metaverse-based activities to provide access to young people who can’t attend in person via the Spatial platform. And a new aspect of this year’s event is dedicated programming for parents and educators to ensure that they have the information they need to support young people in pursuing tech activities, Winfield said.

The FRSHWV organizers want students to be able to access the event’s resources after the festival is over, so they’re planning to offer a digital guidebook. Winfield said they will be sharing those resources with teachers and parents, too. Hines’ civic engagement-focused Web3 company METRODAO will also provide a platform for continued engagement.

“We’re trying to capture these kids while they’re developing their decision about what they want to be, what they want to do.”Anthony Howard FRSHVW

FRSHWV’s goal is to introduce all youth to emerging technology, but more specifically, introduce marginalized youth to technology that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to; much of the programming focuses on what students are capable with on the devices they already have, such as a cell phone. Accessibility is also part of the reason why the event is free to students, with the target audience being middle and high school kids.

“We’re trying to capture these kids while they’re developing their decision about what they want to be, what they want to do,” Howard said, by offering “some additional options that they may or may not get in a normal curriculum.”

The organizers have also been hosting FRSHWV Fridays on Spatial to ask youth what topics and performers they are interested in. Winfield said they want to make sure everything at the event is something young people actually care about.

They are also taking submissions for speakers and performers and have been sharing out that form to schools and other youth organizations. In the past, young people have performed at the event, too, and  Winfield said they want to include opportunities for them to participate this year as well.

Register here

The organizers hope FRSHWV inspires the young people and families who come to the event.

“We think this city has huge potential,” Howard said. “We think the youth deserve a lot more than they’re getting and we want to be a part of that change to make Philly [into] the city of the future that we all know it can be and it starts with our young people.”

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: University City Science Center

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