When a Philly native-son-turned-celebrity tweets their support for something, it holds some weight.
Forever a hero to Philadelphians for bringing an NBA championship to the city in 1983, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and West Philadelphia native Julius “Dr. J” Erving raised caught our eyes Friday when he tweeted his support for inclusive tech talent pipeline project 1Philadelphia.
Formerly stylized as OnE Philadelphia, 1Philadelphia is a Coded by Kids initiative to connect local communities of color to opportunities in tech. You might have seen its commercials around social media lately.
A career in tech is a real shot at #goingpro for Philly youth. Check out 1Philadelphia, a new @codedbykids initiative for Philadelphians interested in tech. #1PhlTech #goingprotech #whynotech #diversityintech
— Julius Dr J Erving (@JuliusErving) May 6, 2021
Coded by Kids Chief Revenue Officer Melanie Hidalgo-Britt said she heard from Erving’s team that he was interested in receiving information on the initiative, and after his review, he said he could support by amplifying the message.
She was ecstatic.
“I had to call a few people to calm down before I talked to his team,” she told Technical.ly. “I’m a [major] basketball fan and my husband and dad are, too. It was exciting to see how we could work together.”
Erving’s tweet emphasizes how kids can “go pro” in tech, something that is a core focus for Hidalgo-Britt and her colleagues in the new “Going Pro” social media campaign. While she is an immense fan of of Erving and fellow Philadelphia 76ers legend Allen Iverson, Hildago-Britt said that there are other ways for kids from underrepresented backgrounds to be successful outside of music, sports or acting.
“There’s a 0.03% chance someone can make it make it into the NBA,” she said. “Just thinking about that, we want to support students in doing whatever they want to do. We want to make sure they’re aware of the options available.”
In fall 2021, 1Philadelphia will launch an Innovation League in recreation and community centers in districts throughout the city. Students ages 12 to 18 will learn how to code, create a product or conduct some other project, all in a tournament-style bracket. No matter what their project is, students will all learn the importance of design thinking, she said.
Having the support of a living legend like Erving can only push Coded by Kids further ahead in helping the community, Hidalgo-Britt said: “We just went from local to global.”
— Coded by Kids (@codedbykids) May 6, 2021
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 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.