Morehouse College students are rolling in dough, thanks to Zillow.
Zillow, in collaboration with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Black Tech Ventures (BTV) and Amplify 4 Good, has announced the winners of its HBCU Housing Hackathon. The weeklong virtual event kicked off on Sept. 23, drawing in more than 150 HBCU students who were engaged in a contest for top prizes. Each team was required to create innovative solutions to help at-risk renters and struggling first-time home buyers.
The Hackathon united 49 teams that represented 17 HBCUs from around the country. The Morehouse team, consisting of Kendall Camp, Grant Commodore, Joshua Curry and Paul Lockett, took first place for their “Reliby” app. Also known as team Househouse, the students of Morehouse walked away with a grand prize of $20,000 for their app which addresses financial uncertainty for long-term renters. The app also provides users with a “stability score” to illuminate dramatic increases in living expenses that might come months or years in the future. Along with their winnings, Zillow plans to donate $25,000 to Morehouse College’s computer science program.
“It’s awesome to conceptualize a project that could help a lot of people and not only win this hackathon and receive prizes that are great for my team, but also help earn a donation for our college,” Lockett, a member of team Househouse and Morehouse College senior, said. “Coming into this, we had a plan, we executed on it and we are so happy we had this amazing opportunity to work and learn with Zillow.”
Alfred R. Watkins, Ph.D., the academic program director for computer science at Morehouse College, echoed Lockett’s sentiments.
“The success of the winning team from Morehouse is an indication the college is working hard to attract, nurture, support, educate and challenge young students to become the tech-savvy leaders this world needs today,” he said.
The final round included six teams who had five minutes to demonstrate their inventions virtually, using live demonstrations and presentation decks, to a panel of judges. The judges were made up of Zillow and tech industry leaders, Rhonda Allen, chief executive officer; David Beitel, chief technology officer; Loni Mahanta, vice president, government relations; Tiffany Taylor, chief people & impact officer; and special student judge Richard Clay, Bowie State University class of 2022.
“It was inspiring to see everyone dig into this challenge and bring their perspective on solutions to some of the problems people face when it comes to renting, buying, or selling a home. These students showed us that our future is in great hands, and we are proud to support them and the institutions that serve them,” Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and hackathon judge, said.
Followed by Morehouse was Team SU of Southern University and A&M College, who won second place and a $12,000 prize for its “ZPlan” application. The app provides aspiring homeowners who may lack financial literacy with tailored help, and tips on home buying based on housing location data.
The third-place winner was Philander Smith College’s Team Aht Aht who took home $6,000 for their “ZInvest” idea, an investment tool designed to lessen the burden of high housing costs and help level the playing field in real estate investing through tokenization.
Each student from the top three teams will also receive new laptops, textbook gift cards and tickets to the upcoming AfroTech World conference. Also, all eligible hackathon participants interested in a role at Zillow will have an opportunity to interview for an internship.
Congrats to the winners!