Congressional App Challenge inspires record number of Latinx and Hispanic-American students

WASHINGTON, DC – The 2017 Congressional App Challenge (CAC) is helping to address the race gap in tech by inspiring youth to learn to code and create original apps.

Cinco de Mayo is as good a time as any to highlight the success of young Latino-American innovators. The App Challenge increased its number of Latino and Hispanic participants by 62% from 2016 to 2017.

The 2017 CAC building the domestic pipeline of future Hispanic and Latino-American tech leaders, with 12% of participants self-identifying as Hispanic or of Latino descent. This quadruples the percent of Hispanic- and Latino-Americans in the U.S.’ tech industry today.

“It is critical as a country that we identify, prepare and connect underrepresented youth to move our tech workforce forward,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, which founded the CSL (Code as a Second Language) initiative. “Beyond the workforce demands, our communities need to problem-solve and programs like the Congressional App Challenge encourage encourage innovation.”

During the 3rd annual contest, over 4,950 students from 42 states participated in the Challenge.  Six hundred young Latino- and Hispanic-Americans were inspired to code PC, web or mobile apps to enter the U.S. Congress’ coding Challenge in 2017.

In addition, 25% of Congressional Hispanic Caucus members held a Congressional App Challenge in 2017, including its Chairwoman, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“One of my goals was to increase the CAC footprint to ensure that all underrepresented groups had a chance to participate,” states CAC Director Rachel Decoste. “I am proud that the App Challenge continues to surpass the tech industry’s diversity standards. It foreshadows the strength of the U.S.’s future workforce”. In collaboration with willing Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, the Challenge has become a valuable manifestation of Congress’ commitment to building the domestic pipeline of future tech leaders. Melissa Medina, the CAC’s Congressional Director, adds “This Challenge innovates the way Congress engages with technology. We work to connect today’s Congress with tomorrow’s coders and innovators. The fact that the App Challenge is naturally bipartisan demonstrates tech’s ability to unite Congress behind a common goal of spreading STEM and Computer Science opportunities across the country.”

The Congressional App Challenge winners get recognition from their Member of Congress, as well as various prizes, and their app is displayed on Capitol Hill. The 2018 edition of the Congressional App Challenge will launch  in early June.


Sample of Latino- and Hispanic-American coders who won in the 2017 Congressional App Challenge

Over 4,900 students across the nation signed up to participate in 2017 Congressional App Challenge. Listed below is a sample of the participants along with the link to each app’s demonstration video.


  • AZ-07 Rep. Ruben Gallego: Edgar Alvarez, Jesus Hernandez, and Niyonkuru Pamphile for the app: American Trivia


  • CA-23 Rep. Kevin McCarthy: Diana Balderas for the app: Food Distribution
  • CA-44 Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan: Ta’corrie Cleveland, Isamari Paz Diaz, and Cesar Hernandez for the app: Easy for Elderly


  • FL-03 Rep. Ted S. Yoho: Andrea Sanchez for the app: iVolunteer
  • FL-20 Rep. Alcee Hastings: Michael Viciedo and Jonathan Fernandez for the app: Aquaticlean
  • FL-25 Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart: Diego Landaeta and Diego Mansilla for the app: VR Experience


  • MD-04 Rep. Anthony Brown: Amber Melton, Alejandra Rodriguez-Perez, Casey Morgan Hanks, and Alexandra O’Keeffe for the app: Job Application Companion


  • TX-15 Rep. Vicente Gonzalez: Eric Ledesma for the app: Financial Calculator
  • TX-17 Rep. Bill Flores: Manuel Flores, Benjamin White, and Sean Burns for the app: Chess Learn Edu
  • TX-20 Rep. Joaquin Castro: Luis Martinez, Jennifer Salazar, and Alejandra Duran for the app: Choose Your School
  • TX-28 Rep. Henry Cuellar: Nyo Cruz, Josue Herrera, Marco Perez, and Elmo Garza for the app: Travel Guide


The CAC is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, managed by the Internet Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The Challenge also owes gratitude to Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Anna G. Eshoo, co-chairs of the Congressional Internet Caucus, who requested and supported the creation of the CAC. Additionally, thank you to Representatives Illeana Ros-Lehtinen and Tim Ryan for serving as 2017 App Challenge Co-chairs.