i.am FIRST Robotics Program Launched in Boyle Heights

Posted on 02/06/2014 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: i.am FIRST

i.am FIRST robotics team
Raytheon mentors

The i.am.angel Foundation is proud to launch the first-ever competitive robotics team in Boyle Heights at Roosevelt High School. Robotics is one of the best embodiments of STEAM. It's about hands-on, project-based learning, and it combines engineering with coding and design. Robotics is like a varsity sport for the mind!

Our team of 20 students has spent the last 5 weeks designing and building a robot from scratch, in order to compete in the international FIRST Robotics Competition in St. Louis this April. It's an intensive program -- our robotics students meet every day after school with dedicated STEM professionals who offer valuable instruction and mentorship in creating sophisticated robots.

will.i.am is a long-time supporter of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Competition, founded by inventor Dean Kamen to celebrate the engineering prowess of K-12 students. To inspire the next generation of rockstar inventors, will.i.am produced the TV special "i.am FIRST: Science is Rock and Roll" which aired in primetime on the ABC Network in August 2011.

Starting a robotics team at Roosevelt High School is monumental to the Boyle Heights community, especially to its students who aspire towards careers in STEM. Ismael Soto, one of the student leaders explained, "With this robotics team, we'll be able to bring incredible new spirit to Roosevelt High School and to our community. With will.i.am's support, we feel like we can do anything."

The team has a strong presence of young women interested in STEM careers. The team captain is 16-year-old Cynthia Erenas, a tech whiz who has already won top prizes at 2 hackathons and dreams of studying at MIT: "I never imagined I could be building a robot at school. Now I want to use my new skills and apply for an internship at NASA this summer."

The i.am.angel Foundation has partnered with leading organizations to make this robotics program possible. Our partners in STEAM include Chase, Dassault Systemes, Raytheon, Google, HP, 3D Systems, and NVIDIA, who have all contributed to the successful creation of this Roosevelt robotics team.

For more photos and updates on our team's progress, check out the i.am.angel Facebook page! Will our students win it all in St.Louis? Stay tuned!

Electrical team
Electrical team
Robot base
Mechanical team

Third Annual TRANS4M Concert Benefiting the i.am.angel Foundation Raises $2.5 Million

Posted on 01/24/2014 @ 08:00 AM

Tags: TRANS4M (Benefit Concert)

will.i.am Joins Busta Rhymes, Chaka Khan, Sergio Mendez, Bell Biv DeVoe, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Scarface, Slick Rick, Cody Wise, Leah McFall and We Are The Future on Stage for Grammy Week Fundraising Celebration

TRANS4M Movement Expands to Detroit, Michigan and Midem Conference in Europe

Chaka Khan and will.i.am

Los Angeles – International recording artist, frontman for The Black Eyed Peas, entrepreneur and philanthropist will.i.am announced today that his third annual TRANS4M Concert benefiting the i.am.angel Foundation raised more than $2.5 million dollars last night, January 23, 2014. Concert proceeds benefit the i.am.angel Foundation’s mission to continue and accelerate TRANS4Mation in the Boyle Heights community of East Los Angeles, and the promotion and expansion of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education around the world.

The benefit concert featured two hours of hip hop, R&B and the sounds of Brazil on stage at the Avalon Hollywood. Headliners included will.i.am, Busta Rhymes, Chaka Khan, Sergio Mendez, Bell Biv DeVoe, Biz Markie, Doug E. Fresh, Scarface, Slick Rick, Cody Wise, Leah McFall and We Are The Future performed on stage to help keep 1,800 guests dancing in the aisles on Thursday night. 
The TRANS4M concert was an evening of celebration, thanks and acknowledgment of many patrons, donors, staff and volunteers who support and manage the i.am.angel Foundation’s programs that are helping to transform and reinvigorate will.i.am’s hometown neighborhood of Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles. TRANS4M is a movement that seeks out large, chronic problems and leverages collaborative efforts among businesses, non-profits, government, and community volunteers to accelerate new thinking and solutions.

will.i.am and Mayor Garcetti

During the evening, i.am.angel foundation President will.i.am and TRANS4M Curator and Futurist Brian David Johnson introduced Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti and Roosevelt High School Principals Randy Romero and Bruce Bivins on stage to talk about the positive, actionable results that the foundation and its programs are achieving in Boyle Heights.

i.am.angel Foundation Program Results

The foundation’s i.am College Track program has raised community expectations, with student attendance now up to 97%, and grade point averages are rising. i.am College Track has relocated from temporary trailer classrooms with a capacity of 60 students to a dedicated and fully renovated building that can serve up to 300 students. i.am College Track is currently working with 120 students, and plans to increase this number in 2014. The program now has a waiting list of 200 students seeking places to attend i.am College Track. With support from the i.am College Track staff, parents, teachers at Roosevelt High School and community volunteers, students in the program are engaging in positive activities including robotics teams, civic hackathons and meaningful summer projects, rather than succumbing to the pressures of gangs, violence and drugs. i.am College Track students are well on their way to finishing high school, and achieving grades required to apply to, and then attend college. 97% of these students will be the first in their family to attend college.

TRANS4M Movement Expands to New Locations

TRANS4M Detroit

Building on the success and positive results being achieved in Boyle Heights, will.i.am and Brian David Johnson also announced the expansion of the TRANS4M movement that will include a standalone TRANS4M event to take place in Detroit, Michigan and a special panel session that will take place in Europe. Midem, the international music business conference, will host the first-ever European TRANS4M panel event curated by will.i.am, “Entertainment as a TRANS4Mation Driver.”

TRANS4M Detroit will take place in September, 2014. The Detroit conference and benefit concert will be hosted by Dan Gilbert, Chairman and Founder, Quicken Loans. i.am.angel foundation Advisory Board member Dennis Archer, Jr. will help shape the conference program as part of the TRANS4M Detroit event leadership committee. The conference will also receive support from Michigan-based businesses and national philanthropic organizations to be announced.

Midem attendees will be introduced to the TRANS4M movement by will.i.am on February 1, 2014. A TRANS4M-themed panel will immediately follow will.i.am’s opening keynote remarks to explore how the dynamic of direct artist-fan connections places the entertainment industry in an advantageous position to drive positive social change. The panel discussion will focus on the TRANS4M movement and its mission to help technology innovators, brands and music makers work together more closely to TRANS4M society for the better.

i.am.angel Foundation Donor and Partner Recognition

Major foundation donors and partners were recognized during the evening, including: JP Morgan Chase, will.i.am, Emerson Collective, Rock Ventures, Ron Conway, Silicon Valley Family Foundation, Unite 4: Good, Dassault Systemes, Hertz Lichtenstein & Young LLP, Live Nation, Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno, Rocketpop Management, Morgridge Family Foundation,The California Endowment, 3DS, Avi Reichental, Beatris Solis, Bill Price, BMG Chrysalis, Claudio Chiuchiarelli, Creative Artists Agency, David Bolno, Frank Torre, General Electric, Greg Cunningham, i.am Bizzy, Ignition Media, Jackmont Hospitality, Jerry Lundergan, Kathlyn Mead, Ken Hertz, Kind Snacks, Kuji Chahal, Lockheed Martin, Morad Fareed, Noah Goodhart, PayPal, Polo Molina, Radj Fernando, Raytheon, Red Light Management, Salesforce.com, Seth Friedman, Shoeline.com, Target, Toby Blue, Vincent Pla and Zander Lurie.

About the i.am.angel foundation

will.i.am created the i.am.angel foundation to TRANS4M lives through education, inspiration and opportunity.  The private foundation was launched in 2009 with a mission to provide assistance to needy college-bound students through a program entitled i.am.scholarship.  Since that time, the foundation has grown to offer and operate programs including “i.am.home” to provide mortgage relief and financial literacy assistance, “i.am College Track” to work with students from will.i.am’s home town (Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles) throughout high school to best prepare them for college, and “i.am.STEAM” to encourage education in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and math.  The foundation is fortunate to be working with partner organizations to help administer and fund these ambitious programs including College Track, the California Endowment, JP Morgan Chase Global Philanthropy and others.  To learn more about the foundation, please visit www.iamangelfoundation.org.


The TRANS4M benefit concert series is part of will.i.am's larger mission to drive positive transformation in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles where he grew up. Founded in 2013, the number 4 in TRANS4M represents the four pillars and driving forces involved in improving the state of chronic societal problems: business, government, non-profits and community volunteers.

About i.am College Track

i.am College Track, an after-school tutoring program that serves 120 college-bound high school students who attend Roosevelt High School. i.am College Track students receive intensive tutoring and instruction that is the equivalent of one extra year of high school. For students in the program, many will be the first in their family to ever apply to and then attend college. Topics of study include robotics, code writing, math, science, and Mandarin Chinese language and culture instruction. Students also participate in enrichment activities and field trips such as summer trips to China to learn Chinese and about the culture of the country; trips to Washington, DC to learn civics and how government operates; invitations to speak and present projects at technology industry conferences such as the ESRI Users Conference; and attending educational workshops at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory to learn about the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity.


Midem is the largest annual international b2b event dedicated to the new music ecosystem, with a tradeshow, conferences, competitions, networking events and live performances. Midem brings together more than 6,400 participants from 75 countries. The 48th edition will take place in Cannes, France from 1-4 February, 2014. It’s the place where music makers, cutting-edge technologies, brands & talents come together to enrich the passionate relationship between people & music, transform audience engagement and form new business connections. Visit www.midem.com to learn more.

Rock Hill’s 3D Systems names singer will.i.am as ‘chief creative officer’

Don Worthington

Herald Online

Jan 10, 2014

Grammy-winning musician, actor, producer and entrepreneur will.i.am has joined the creative team at Rock Hill’s 3D Systems.

Avi Reichental, 3D Systems’ president and CEO, hired the founder of the hip-hop band The Black Eyed Peas to “inspire, shape and drive all of 3D’s initiatives.”

The recording artist’s official title with 3D Systems is “chief creative officer.”

“3D printing lets you get involved, be a part of the creative process and the story of the items you make,” will.i.am said in a statement. “For me, it’s a dream come true to work with ... the company that invented 3D printing and launched an entire platform that all other industries depend on.

“I am so thrilled to begin to fuse my creativity and experience with the technology that is poised to change how we create, make and express ourselves.”

will.i.am – pronounced “Will I Am” – was born William James Adams.

The partnership started more than a year ago when will.i.am approached 3D Systems about a project, said Reichental, who was attending the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

During numerous meetings over a year’s time, Reichental said, he realized the two are kindred spirits.

“After all these talks, I said, ‘Let’s get into action,’ and he responded ‘I’m all in,’ ” Reichental said.

3D Systems said in a statement that it hopes will.i.am will help “mainstream the use of 3D printing through major collaborations with creative brand partners, innovative global campaigns and educational grand challenges designed to grow the popularity of 3D printing.”

Reichental said will.i.am has great entrepreneurial instincts, especially in getting consumers interested in new products.

“We’re excited to partner with a pop culture influencer of will.i.am’s caliber who really gets 3D printing and its potential,” Reichental said.

Reichental expects will.i.am to expand the company’s efforts in fashion, music, sports and education. Both share a passion for expanding education through technology.

will.i.am is also expected to “influence” the functionality of 3D Systems projects, Reichental said.

will.i.am is best known for his work with The Black Eyed Peas, who have sold 33 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide. His solo album, “#willpower”, was released last year and includes the worldwide platinum hit “This is Love,” featuring Eva Simons, and “Scream & Shout,” featuring Britney Spears.

As a producer, will.i.am has worked with singers Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Usher, Nicki Minaj and Britney Spears, and film composer Hans Zimmer.

will.i.am is someone who “works 24-7 and brings his passion to everything he does,” Reichental said. “He will fit us into his schedule.”

Hack for LA Engages Students in Coding and Social Innovation

By Lilly Kam on 12/09/2013 @ 08:30 AM

Tags: i.am STEAM, i.am Boyle Heights, hackathons

Team i.am.angel at Hack for LA in Boyle Heights

i.am.angel Foundation was proud to support two hackathons last weekend, which served as a fantastic kickoff for Computer Science Education Week and the Hour of Code campaign, which aimed to get 10 million kids coding over the course of the week.

Hack for LA, sponsored by the i.am.angel Foundation, returned to Boyle Heights on December 7-8 with over 200 coders, designers, entrepreneurs and community hacktivists gathering to make apps for social good. Held at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights, the 2-day hackathon event drew a colorful crowd that reflected the wide diversity of Los Angeles. 28 apps were submitted for judging, and over $17,000 was awarded in prizes! The judging panel included retired NFL athlete and Boyle Heights native Lynn Cain-- who also happens to be the uncle of will.i.am!

Students were a big part of the coding weekend. Participants included our very own i.am College Track scholars from Roosevelt High School, who worked on 2 different app projects.

One team was the "Rough Riders Media Center," an app to empower students at Roosevelt High School to be grassroots student journalists, providing a platform for broadcasting news about school issues, or local Boyle Heights news. This student team recently won a $15,000 grant to execute a new media center for Roosevelt High School, and they were eager to incorporate an app into their plans.

Another team created the "Dreamers App," a platform to connect students with mentors who could provide valuable advice on career paths and internships. This team ended up winning the General Assembly Prize for App with Most Potential, which would provide free class credits at General Assembly. This was actually the 2nd hackathon win for the students behind the Dreamers App. At the inaugural Hack for LA event in June, they won the prize for Best App Benefiting Boyle Heights with their app that could crowdfund college scholarships for students in need, which they hope to launch in 2014. Our students are really becoming hackathon pros!

Middle school students learn to code at Hack for LA's kids hack day.

Meanwhile, i.am.angel Foundation also helped to sponsor a "Kids only" hack day for middle and high school students who were beginner coders, at the UCLA Community School in Koreatown. Beginner coders from all over L.A. were taught how to use MIT App Inventor software to build their own app prototypes. Students used a comprehensive curriculum provided by the Technovation Challenge to learn the basics of coding, making business plans, and pitch presentations. App ideas from these grade schoolers included: An app to visualize holiday decorations on your house before you put them up; an app for matching abandoned pets to new owners; an app to prevent procrastination; and even an app for anger management for kids!

We continue to be inspired by the great ideas that students come up with when they are given the skills and opportunity to be social innovators. We're looking forward to many more hackathons to come!

Boyle Heights students working on their app

Hackers pack the house at the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Boyle Heights

Hack for LA organizers with judge Lynn Cain

Hack for L.A. Returns to Boyle Heights For Computer Science Education Week!

By Lilly Kam on 12/04/2013 @ 08:30 AM

Tags: i.am STEAM, i.am Boyle Heights, hackathons

To celebrate Computer Science Education Week's "Hour of Code," the i.am.angel Foundation is turning Boyle Heights into coder central!

Hack for L.A. returns to Boyle Heights on December 7-8 to engage Los Angeles' best coders, technologists, designers, entrepreneurs, and "hacktivists" to come together and design solutions to civic problems, by using technology and app development.

Hack for L.A. has become the largest civic hackathon in Southern California. The inaugural event in June was held as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking, and drew over 400 Angelenos making apps for social good. i.am.angel Foundation served as a sponsor and co-organizer, and continues to support this epic hackathon movement!

The first Hack for L.A. was such a huge hit that organizers decided to put on another event before the end of the year. The timing fit in perfectly with Computer Science Education Week.

This year, Computer Science Education Week (December 9-15) has launched an "Hour of Code" campaign that aims to inspire 10 million students to learn coding. Students around the world will be encouraged to spend one hour coding at their schools or local community centers. Our event in Boyle Heights will be one of many exciting events happening across the globe! In fact, over 20,000 events in over 100 countries have been registered as of this blog post!

Hack for L.A.'s 2-day event will be held at the Variety Boys & Girls Club in Boyle Heights, which was recently renovated into a modern, state-of-the-art facility.

Presenting partners and sponsors include: i.am.angel Foundation, Sprint, tapdn, Cornerstone on Demand, Google's Civic Innovation Team, Demand Media, Socrata, General Assembly, Los Angeles Information Technology Agency, Control Panel LA, Code for LA, New Economy Campaigns, and Variety Boys and Girls Club. The event will feature prized challenges on topics including "Best health and fitness app" and "Best use of LA City data," and a total prize pool valued at more than $15,000!

We can't wait to see Anglenos get their geek on for Computer Science Education Week! Join us to make apps for social good, sign up at www.hackforla.org

The Variety Boys & Girls Club in Boyle Heights

will.i.am's L.A. Projects Makeover: Homes to Promote Health

Alexandria Abramian

Hollywood Reporter

Nov 26, 2013

A home in Estrada Courts, where will.i.am grew up

The musician/philanthropist's newest project for Delos' WELL-Access program provides a healthy makeover for homes.

When will.i.am met Delos co-founder Morad Fareed, he instantly responded to the concept of how homes can promote health.

"I appreciate that Morad took the time to educate me and the i.am.angel Foundation team about how buildings can make people healthier, versus contributing to health problems," says the musician/philanthropist, who decided to bring the Delos concept home to the East L.A. housing project where he was raised.

"I am on a mission to enhance my hometown neighborhood of Boyle Heights, including helping to make Estrada Courts, the public housing project where I grew up, a healthier and more comfortable place to live," he says.

Estrada Courts now provides housing for more than 1,200 residents. Built in 1942-43, the freeway- and factory-adjacent community remains outfitted with lead paint and pipes, contributing to poor air and water quality.

"What we're doing isn't just something for luxury condos," says Delos founder Paul Scialla of the large-scale renovation and modernization, adding that will.i.am's project is just the start of Delos' WELL-Access program, "where we are bringing cleaner air, water and surface coatings to the affordable housing community sector as well."

will.i.am Explores Technology Through Comic Book

John Gaudiosi


Nov 18, 2013

FORTUNE -- In a marriage made at Intel Corp., the Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am has partnered with futurist Brian David Johnson on a new comic book, Wizards & Robots. Both the multi-talented entertainer and the futurist work with Intel (INTC) in different capacities, and it's their introduction there that led to the creative collaboration that has crafted a transmedia take on comics. The prequel to the IDW Publishing graphic novel trilogy, The Hope Algorithm, which is available free through the creators' Tumblr (YHOO) site, made its debut at New York Comic Con last month. The first graphic novel, which features art from Batman: Arkham City artist Adam Archer, launches in March 2014.

"The idea [for Wizards & Robots] came from Brian's work around robotics and my work around science, technology, engineering and mathematics for inner city kids," said the Black Eyed Peas frontman (given name: Will Adams). "I was concerned about the lack of funding we have in education in inner cities, juxtaposed against the advancement in robotics and micro processing."

Adams's living room on Halloween 2011 was the birthplace for this new universe, which focuses on robots from the future that come back and do battle with a group of wizards. What separates this comic from other sci-fi works, besides its creators, is that it's based in reality. "It's based on real robotics and the magic is from quantum physics," said Johnson, who tracks the breakthroughs in modern-day robotics. "We've really started designing robots so they could possibly have emotions. We design them to actually act like and interact with people."

The comic is set in the present day: elements such as how time travel could occur are explained for readers, and there's even a new language created for and included in the story. Adams and Johnson worked together on it outside of Intel to build this universe, which they hope will eventually expand with the help of others. "We wanted to make sure that we gave real contextual details on what the story is about before launching the graphic novel so that anybody else, whether it's film or video games, that wants to collaborate and turn this into different media properties has a greater sense of what our vision is for Wizards & Robots," said Adams.

In fact, one offshoot of the universe has already become reality. New York Comic Con also saw the debut of 200 Kaku robot sculptures. Technology, which is a driving force within the fictional universe, played a key role in bringing the miniature sculptures and the larger-scale replica that was featured at the Intel Comic Con booth to life.

"Four months ago I was emailed a rendering of Kaku, and now he's real," said Adams, referring to the robot historian from the year 3000 that's a central character in the story. "All that creativity and collaboration used to just be in our heads and now it's come to life." Adams refers to the phenomenon of technology democratizing the creative process: "We call it VAVADA, which is Visual, Audio, Virtual to Actual, Digits to Atoms. It's the power of VAVADA right now in society."

In addition to action figures, Adams is excited about the video-game potential for this new universe. He previously worked with Microsoft (MSFT) and Ubisoft (UBSFY) on the Kinect Xbox 360 dance music game, The Black Eyed Peas Experience. "The computational power in today's video games are just amazing," he said. "I grew up with a joystick in my hand. I grew up with Atari 2600. To see the level of intelligence and the types of games and the artificial intelligence that's actually in them, that's just amazing how sophisticated games are now and how you can now physically interact with them like you couldn't before."

Wizards & Robots offers an escape for Adams to relive his childhood, while at the same time helping to shed light on the power of STEM education for kids. He grew up reading traditional comics like Superman, Spider-Man and Batman, and watched cartoons like Transformers, Centurions and Mighty Max. He even appeared as John Wraith in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. "I'm still like a kid," Adams said. "I'm an adult that's been brought up in this society and culture, but my curiosity is still like a kid. That's where this interpretation of merging real science and robotics within a fantastic fantasy world came from."

The secret to Adams's success in multiple business ventures has been the partners he's teamed up with, he says.

"It's all the power of your collaboration and your circle of people that you can potentially collaborate with," said Adams. "It's the same with my hardware like Beats headphones or Intel ultrabooks. I'm happy for that to be a part of an extension of my creativity."

In case it's not completely obvious by this point, Adams is fascinated by technology. He's been involved with organizations like NASA and FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) that push technology forward, while promoting the education of science.

"Computers amplify my ideas and my life," he said. "Being able to spit ideas into a computer to make and compose songs and share them with the world in real-time just fascinated me. It sparked my curiosity to go from writing songs on computers to wanting to learn how to program code on computers. Now I'm taking a computer science course at MIT as a result of my passion for technology."

That passion has also led to a new project for the musician, although he won't go into much detail at the moment. But it does involve two of his loves: robots and music.

"There are some things that I'm dabbling in with other folks that I'm creating with that I want to reveal in 2014, when it comes to machines and composing music," he said. "I'm working on that now, actually."

For now, Adams is going to score the soundtrack for Wizards & Robots with the Prague Philharmonic. The score will fuse computer music with orchestral compositions. He is also working on an app and a hyper-interactive website for the graphic novel. And the future looks bright for this new IP.