According to KSLA, the event drew more than 200 students from HBCUs, which made up 65 teams. There were six teams that advanced to the final round and each had five minutes to present their ideas virtually to a panel of judges.
The first place winners were a team of four from Morgan State University, called the ZillowBears. The team won $20,000 for its “Z-Save” application which addresses disproportionate mortgage denial rates for Black and Latinx borrowers due to low credit scores. The app estimates monthly mortgage costs and lets users deposit that amount into a virtual wallet that tracks payment trends. Zillow will donate $25,000 to Morgan State’s computer science program as part of the first-place price.
"I wanted to participate in the hackathon to learn more about the real estate industry and explore on a deeper level how technology can help solve the most prominent issues people face every day when trying to secure a home," said Nanfwang Dawurang, a member of ZillowBears and a senior computer science student at Morgan State University. "Seeing how different people look at the same issue in completely different ways and the various innovative and exciting ideas presented in tackling housing issues showed me that progress can always be made when people come together and are intentional about solving a problem."
Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and one of the judges, said she and her colleagues are very impressed with the student’s work and their innovative ideas.
"With 20 schools represented, this hackathon not only helps Zillow continue to foster engagement among HBCUs, but it allows us to tap our next generation of technology leaders to help ensure we are continuously evolving as a company and positively impacting the technology industry as a whole,” said Clottey.
The other hackathon prize winners included teams from Fisk and Howard universities.
Fisk won second place for its “Hey Roomie” concept, which is a rental hub integration that uses machine learning to pair renters with compatible roommates or cosigners. Howard won third place for “VibeZ.” Their application was geared toward millennial and Gen Z home shoppers and allowed them to search based on community preferences like nightlife, greenspaces, the presence of an art scene and more.
Students from the top three teams will receive laptops and textbook gift cards. All eligible participants interested in a role at Zillow will have an opportunity to interview for an internship.