Unless you live under a rock or have no contact with the outside world I think you know that last week we lost a music icon, creative inspiration, a genius, Prince Nelson. We all knew Prince was a man of musical excellence and had the creativity to reinvent himself constantly but how why we didn’t know he was involved with tech? I won’t lie I didn’t know but now I’ve been informed and I have to share what I know.
Prince was inspired by the Trayvon Martin killing and wanted to find a way to help underprivileged Black youth. One of his first noted endeavors was his association to his friend, Van Jones, initiative YesWeCode. The mission of YesWeCode, which is part of Jones’ Rebuild the Dream charity, is to teach 100,000 low-income youths to write code. In Jones interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday he stated, “Prince said … ‘A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius‘”.
Prince showed his support for YesWeCode by asking Essence to host a coding competition for underrepresented youth (sponsored with YesWeCode and Qeyno Labs) at the 2014 Essence Festival in New Orleans. As a result, Prince agreed to perform at the festival that year. Yet his concern wasn’t about his performance or how much he was going to get paid; he wanted to know how many kids they were helping and what they could do to get kids to the competition.
It also should be noted that if you live in Oakland and have solar panels on your house, Prince might be responsible for that. Again under a Van Jones association, Green For All, homes were provided with solar panels amongst other things. It was after his death that Jones revealed that Prince was the driving force and checkbook for the initiative.
Prince was making a lot of secret charitable moves, especially in the tech sector. I’m happy that his generosity and involvement are being noticed now, even though it had to come due to his unexpected death. Now we know that music was just part of his greatness and there were many dimensions to this amazing man.
So share with me in the comments below what are you doing to give back in general or in tech? Let me celebrate your generosity while you’re still here.