Is it over yet? A look back at 2020

We have yet to meet anyone who wishes this year would last longer.  From COVID-19 to civil unrest to political and economic turmoil, 2020 brought us a number of challenges and tragedies beyond the scope of this article. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that December is almost over.  So while it might seem premature…

From "Beyond slacktivism: Samaritan and the rise of app-tivism" published June 25
From "Beyond slacktivism: Samaritan and the rise of app-tivism" published June 25

We have yet to meet anyone who wishes this year would last longer. 

From COVID-19 to civil unrest to political and economic turmoil, 2020 brought us a number of challenges and tragedies beyond the scope of this article. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that December is almost over. 

So while it might seem premature to do a year-end retrospective of our favorite stories when there’s still two weeks left in 2020…honestly, we just want 2021 to get here right away. Maybe this will hurry things along.

Here are our five favorite Silicon Prairie News articles from 2020.

Beyond slacktivism: Samaritan and the rise of app-tivism
While SPN will always highlight and champion the tech startup community—filling a crucial gap in regional coverage about the Silicon Prairie entrepreneurial ecosystem—this year, SPN decided to expand its scope and go deeper into the humanistic side of startup culture, and to bring you in-depth, powerful stories about the ways organizations use cutting-edge technology to reshape our world. Samaritan is a mobile app that allows users to directly support case-managed unhoused individuals. By featuring the life stories and needs of community members struggling to rise from poverty and homelessness, Samaritan fosters genuine human connection and uses technology to capitalize on some of humanity’s best qualities: kindness, altruism and charity toward one’s neighbor.

“Like driving an aircraft carrier”: developing skilled workers in Nebraska a major challenge
This article, written by SPN contributor Cole Epley, takes a look at the skills gap in Nebraska and efforts to address it through incentives toward technical education. Beginning in Spring 2021, the Nebraska Career Scholarships program will funnel $16 million in state funding over the next four years to students enrolled in relevant technical programs within the University of Nebraska system, as well as the state college and community college systems. A highly skilled workforce is crucial to the success of businesses and entrepreneurs. Read on for more info about this potentially game-changing program.

Union Pacific strengthens tech workforce with internships for first-generation college students
We celebrate partnerships that build and diversify the next generation of tech talent. Starting in January, a cohort of underserved high school seniors participated in intensive web development education taught by AIM Code School. The students, who were the first members of their families to go on to higher education, had the chance to apply for Union Pacific’s summer internship program. Written by SPN contributor Penina Beede, this is the story of two students putting their newfound skills to work for an esteemed enterprise and gaining real-world job experience before their college careers have even begun.

‘You don’t have to be an engineer to do this:’ Local founders say ‘no code’ apps are changing the game
Continuing the theme of increasing access to the tech field, SPN took a look at the role of so-called no code apps and their growing role in helping entrepreneurs quickly bring their ideas to life, even if they have little-to-no background in tech. Paradoxically, according to director of AIM Code School Emily Matis, these no code apps often spark the desire to develop actual coding skills and in her experience have influenced many non-tech professionals to enroll in formal web development education. See how the phenomenon of no code apps is shaking things up for aspiring and established entrepreneurs in the Midwest.

Side-eyeing bias in the hiring process
Part of an in-depth, three-part series investigating the role of technology in mitigating cultural bias in the hiring process, this article introduces the issue through the eyes of a high-performing programmer of color who despite his proven experience and strong portfolio still had trouble finding employment in the Omaha tech sector despite the growing demand for tech talent. Finally, he landed his dream job with a notable tech company that values his identity and expertise. Unfortunately, as the article found, such HR bias is not merely a local issue but a nationwide trend.

Already read it? Take a look at parts two and three of the series.

Honorable mention: Not just for teens — TikTok means business for Kenney Property Services
A family business makes entertaining TikToks about cleaning common spills and grows a following of over 3 million users in the process. What’s not to love about this wholesome story?

 

 

 

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