Morgan State Students Win Zillow’s Housing Hackathon After Developing an App

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Zillow’s efforts to reimagining real estate doesn’t stop at homebuyers and renters. It includes those behind the scenes as well.

Zillow’s second HBCU Housing Hackathon, which drew more than 200 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), awarded top prizes to teams that developed innovations to help renters and first-time buyers find their dream homes.

The top three finishers in the hackathon, in collaboration with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Amplify 4 Good, won over the judges with projects that offer impactful tech solutions that align with Zillow’s mission to help consumers overcome obstacles in their journey to find a home.

ZillowBears, a team of four Morgan State University students, won first place and $20,000 for its “Z-Save” application, which estimates monthly mortgage costs and lets users deposit that amount into a virtual wallet that tracks their payment trends. The app also shows lenders data points to help determine whether potential homeowners qualify for a mortgage and offer them a way to prove creditworthiness outside the traditional credit scoring system. Zillow® also will donate $25,000 to Morgan State’s computer science program as part of the first-place prize.

“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.”

The HBCU Hackathon brought together 65 teams. Six teams advanced to the final round and had five minutes to present their ideas virtually, using live demonstrations and presentation decks, to a panel of judges made up of Zillow and tech industry leaders.

“We are very impressed with the caliber of the work, the quality of the presentations, and the outstanding, innovative ideas the students displayed at Zillow’s second HBCU Housing Hackathon,” said Aldona Clottey, Zillow vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility and one of the judges. “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.”