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June 14thth


Press Release, April 19, 2020

P.O. Box 804 Appleton, WI 54912

AYEI Responds to COVID-19; HackAppleton 2020 to be organized on Microsoft Teams

By Ivan Fan

To the friends of the AYEI,

For over a decade, the Appleton Youth Education Initiative has been a leader in fostering innovation in education. Today, as we face the new realities of a post COVID-19 world, it is crucial that we work together to protect one another and to address COVID-19’s impact on Wisconsin youth.

The health and well-being of the Fox Valley and our broader Wisconsin community members is always our highest priority. Last month, in light of the developing pandemic, the AYEI Board decided to postpone our Spring 2020 HackAppleton event.

We are pleased to announce that with the support of our partners at Microsoft, Miron Construction, Schneider National, TitleTown Tech, the Appleton Area School District, Festival Foods, and others, we plan to move forward with organizing a virtual version of HackAppleton on Microsoft Teams on June 14, 2020. Each of us must do our part, and our students believe that there is so much innovative potential amongst Wisconsin youth available to help defeat this virus.

The theme of this year’s HackAppleton will be around building technological solutions to tackle COVID-19 and to address its public health, economic, and cultural consequences. Participants of HackAppleton will develop software, use AI, and build digital capabilities which can help address some of the unprecedented challenges to our health system, supply chains, and access to accurate information.

COVID-19 has revealed weaknesses in our society’s pre-crisis consumption model and it is amplifying socioeconomic disparities in our own community and in communities all over the world. It is imperative that we learn from this experience and grow more sophisticated and empathetic in how we design systems of governance. We are all in this together, and we must do all that we can to support the governments and businesses essential to jumpstarting our society and economy.

If we work together to innovate and fight this virus, we will emerge a stronger, smarter, and kinder society. It is crucial that we do our part to rally our community here in Wisconsin and defeat COVID-19, and we remain steadfast in our mission to prepare Wisconsin youth for the opportunities and challenges of life post-secondary education. Our resolve to link students to growth for the future has never been stronger.

We at the initiative thank you for your resilience and unwavering support during these challenging and uncertain times. We remain committed to innovating on behalf of Wisconsin youth, and we look forward to seeing you all this summer at HackAppleton 2020.

Warmly, Ivan

Press Release, February 25, 2020

P.O. Box 804 Appleton, WI 54912

Microsoft Sponsors Appleton Youth Education Initiative to Organize third annual “HackAppleton” Coding Competition

By Umika Sivasamy and Tracy Wang

The Appleton Youth Education Initiative (AYEI), a student-driven education non-profit organization founded in 2008, will host its third annual “HackAppleton” programming competition on April 19th from 9am to 6pm at the offices of Miron Construction.

Microsoft has sponsored the competition since the competition’s inception in 2018, when Microsoft president and Appleton native Brad Smith announced the company’s philanthropic partnership with AYEI. Microsoft has made innovation in service of more inclusive economic growth around the country a priority for the company. Various Microsoft Philanthropies programs, including TechSpark, TEALS, and TitleTown Tech, a joint venture between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft, have made the advancement of innovation and economic growth in the Northeastern Wisconsin region a key priority.

The Appleton Youth Education Initiative was founded by Ivan Fan, a Yale and Berkeley-educated technology entrepreneur and 2010 graduate of Appleton North High School. Its day to day operations are managed by top student leaders from the AASD and other surrounding school districts, and it enjoys the strong support of a twelve member adult advisory board which includes community leaders such as AASD Superintendent Judith Baseman, distinguished community philanthropist Gayle Kagen, and others.

“HackAppleton represents the alignment of business, non-profit, and student interests in making Wisconsin one of the best places for young people to develop foundational STEM skills.” - Edward Ruffalo, Director of IT at Miron Construction and Board of Directors, AYEI.

HackAppleton is the first computer science competition of its kind and scale in Northeastern Wisconsin. Last year, the competition drew approximately 100 students from 17 different high and middle schools from multiple districts in the state. This year’s hackathon will be business themed, and participating teams will design and develop software that benefits a local business.

“Attending this event means you’ll gain exposure to tech companies as well as valuable experience with what it’s like to work with a team in the field — all in addition to the prizes worth thousands you’ll be competing for.” - Greg Levenhagen, Microsoft Regional Director and Board of Directors, AYEI.

After students finish the coding portion of the event, a distinguished judging panel of technology engineers, scientists, and executives will identify and rank the three winning teams. While they await the results, attendees will hear from feature speakers and panels about various topics related to the technology world. Speakers in previous years have hailed from institutions including Schneider National, Stellar Blue Technologies, and the AASD. At least three representatives of Microsoft are slated to speak at the event, including Matt Adamczyk, Tara Anderson, and Adam Luebke. Ms. Anderson and Mr. Luebke will each speak on topics related to Microsoft’s enterprise and engineering operations. Mr. Adamczyk, technologist in residence at TitleTown Tech, will speak about the work of the new $10 million dollar center as well as ways to get involved in startups right here in Wisconsin. The speeches will be open to the public.

In previous years, winning student teams have won prize combinations of cash, X-boxes, drones, and other devices including Microsoft Surface Pros and Raspberry Pis. Previous programming experience or technical expertise is helpful but not required, and students can sign up to participate in the competition at the following link: At least one member of each team must bring a laptop, and while a few additional laptops will be available on site, their use will be limited to troubleshooting and support.

“Every entrepreneur and student in Wisconsin has the potential to become the next Bill Gates or Brad Smith. We are proud to partner with our friends at Microsoft, and we are thrilled to advance innovation and economic growth right here in Wisconsin.” - Ivan Fan

For general information about the HackAppleton event, please visit For information about the Appleton Youth Education Initiative, please visit and follow @AYEIOfficial on Twitter. Contact for any other questions specifically related to the HackAppleton event.


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