Thanks to Zillow, these Morehouse College students are cashing out and helping others at the same time!
Zillow has officially announced the winners of its HBCU Housing Hackathon, where more than 150 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) competed for top prizes. Each team of students was to bring innovative ideas to life that would help both at-risk renters and struggling first-time home buyers.
The team from Morehouse, made up of four students, walked away with first place and a grand prize of $20,000 which will be split evenly amongst all four students.
Their program, “Reliby,” uses a machine to predict increases in rent and utility costs at a particular address over time. Their program also offers renters an early warning about any affordability challenges that may be underway.
“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,” said Paul Lockett, member of team Househouse and senior computer science student at Morehouse College in an official release shared with AfroTech. “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.”
Altogether 49 teams from 17 different HBCUs competed for the chance to walk away as the winner of Zillow’s HBCU Housing Hackathon. Six teams moved on to the final round — where they had five minutes to present their ideas through live demonstrations to a panel of judges made up of tech industry and Zillow leaders.
Morehouse’s winners included Lockett, Kendall Camp, Grant Commodore, and Joshua Curry. Not only did they receive funding to execute Reliby, but thanks to them, Morehouse College’s computer science program received a donation of $25,000. All winners will also receive brand new laptops to assist in their academic journeys.
“Computer science departments at HBCUs specialize in developing technically competent students with a sense of mission and purpose that drives them to innovate,” continued Alfred R. Watkins, Ph.D., academic program director for computer science at Morehouse College. “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.”
Click here to see all the winners from Zillow’s HBCU Housing Hackathon event.