Morgan State University students win Zillow’s HBCU hackathon with app that measures financial credibility outside of credit scoring

  • The second annual competition challenged participants to develop new technologies to help consumers in their search for housing.

SEATTLE, September 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow’s Second HBCU Housing Hackathonwhich 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 first three of the hackathon, in collaboration with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Amplify 4 Goodwon over the judges with projects that deliver impactful technology solutions that align with Zillow’s mission to help consumers overcome obstacles in their journey to finding a home.

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

“I wanted to participate in the hackathon to learn more about the real estate industry and explore in more depth how technology can help solve the most important problems people face every day when trying to secure a home” , said Nanfwang Dawurang, a ZillowBears member and a senior computer science student at Morgan State University. “Seeing how different people approach the same problem in completely different ways and the various innovative and exciting ideas presented to solve housing problems has shown me that progress can always be made when people come together and have the intention to solve a problem.”

The HBCU Hackathon brought together 65 teams. Six teams qualified for the final round and had five minutes to pitch their ideas virtually, using live demos and pitches, to a judging panel comprised of Zillow and technology industry leaders.

“We are very impressed with the caliber of work, the quality of the presentations, and the exceptional and innovative ideas that students presented during 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 into our next generation of technology leaders to ensure we continually evolve as a company and that we are having a positive impact on the tech industry as a whole.”

Joining Dawurang in the first place team was Oluwadara Dina, Saad Nadim and Godsheritage Adeoye. Their victory”Z-Savewas designed to address disproportionate mortgage turndown rates for Black and Latino borrowers due to low credit scores by providing lenders with another way to assess financial credibility. Users can create a positive payment history and receive a “Z-score”, which can be used as a solvency indicator.

Zillow HBCU Hackathon Finalists

The other winners of the hackathon were the Straw Hat Crew of Fisk University and first shot Howard University.

Team Straw Hat Crew won second place and $12,000 for his “hey roommate“, a Zillow rental hub integration that uses machine learning to match renters with compatible potential roommates or co-signers based on housing and lifestyle preferences.

The Straw Hat crew included Collins Ikpeyi, Sopuruchi Ndubuisi and Elie Okoroh.

Team First Move won third place and a $6,000 price for “VibeZ“, an app for millennial and gen-z homebuyers that allows users to search for homes based on community preferences, such as access to nightlife, green spaces, presence of an artistic scene, etc.

First Move team members included Bryce Gordon-Pinkston, Ife MartinAyotunde Ogunroku and Joshua Veasy.

The semi-finalist teams were:

  • The Atom team of Alabama State Universitywith team members Arnold BhebheBest Olunusi, Robert Mukuchura and Lucky Chitundu
  • bear broker Morgan State Universitywith Efosa Isujeh, Subomi Popoola, Martin Adu-Boahene and Dimitri Watat
  • rocket Howard Universitywith Jeremy White Jr., Karis Lewis, Morayo Adeyemi and Tyler Williams

Semi-final judges included Lakshmi Dixit, Zillow Vice President, Tech Engineering and Operations; Kevin RegensbergZillow Senior Technical Product Manager; Damien StonesFounder, Black Wealth; Richard Clay, Investment Partner, Door Room Fund; and Chad WomackPh.D., Vice President of National STEM Programs and Technology Initiatives at UNCF.

All students from the top three teams will also receive new laptops and textbook gift cards, and all eligible hackathon participants interested in a role at Zillow will have the opportunity to interview for an internship.

The latest round of hackathon pitching was judged by Zillow and tech industry leaders, including Eric Baileyvice president of Experience Design at Zillow; Aldona Clottey, vice president of corporate social responsibility at Zillow; April Daleysoftware engineer at Etsy; Jonathan Rabbi, founder and CEO of Watch The Yard; and Chad WomackPh.D., Vice President of National STEM Programs and Technology Initiatives at UNCF.

About Zillow Group

Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG) is reinventing real estate to make it easier to open the next chapter in life. As the most visited real estate site in United StatesZillow® and its affiliates provide customers with an on-demand experience to sell, buy, rent or finance with transparency and ease.

Zillow Group affiliates and subsidiaries include Zillow®, Zillow Premier Agent®, Zillow Home Loans™, Zillow Closing Services™, Trulia®, Out East®, ShowingTime®, Bridge Interactive®, dotloop®, StreetEasy® and HotPads®. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an Equal Housing Lender, NMLS #10287 (

About UNCF

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community, and the nation, UNCF supports student education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance minority education and college preparation. Institutions at UNCF and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American bachelor’s degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarships, internships and fellowships, mentoring, summer enrichment, and faculty training and development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo represents the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more about or for ongoing updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.



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