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


Umika Sivasamy and Tracy Wang, Contributor

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 Microsoft. 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 Schenider 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 engineering and enterprise 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 [email protected] for any other questions specifically related to the HackAppleton event. 



Tracy Wang, Vice President, Chairperson of HackAppleton 2020
[email protected]
Manish Raj, President
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Paige Givens, Secretary
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Maya Ruffalo, Treasurer
[email protected]