Press room: Morgan State University students win HBCU Hackathon from Zillow with app that measures out-of-credit financial credibility

The second annual competition prompted participants to develop new technologies to assist consumers during their journey to find a home.

SEATTLE – The second HBCU of Housing in Zillow, which has attracted more than 200 students from Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), awarded first prizes to teams that developed innovations to help renters and first-time buyers find the homes of their dreams.

The top three hackathon contestants, in association with United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Amplify 4 Good, beat judges with projects that deliver impactful technology solutions aligned with Zillow’s mission to help consumers overcome obstacles in their journey to find a home.

The ZillowBears team, made up of four students from Morgan State University, won first place and $20,000 for the 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 lender data points to help determine if potential homeowners qualify for a mortgage and provide a way to prove creditworthiness outside of the traditional credit rating system. Zillow® will also donate $25,000 to a computer science program at Morgan State as part of the first place award.

said Nanfwang Dawurang, a member of ZillowBears and a senior student in computer science at Morgan State University. “Seeing how different people view the same problem in very different ways and the diverse innovative and exciting ideas presented in addressing housing issues have shown me that progress can always be made when people come together and mean to solve 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 demos and presentation platforms, to a panel of judges made up of Zillow and tech industry leaders.

said Aldona Clotti, Zillow’s vice president of corporate social responsibility and one of the judges. “With 20 schools represented, this Zillow hackathon not only helps continue to foster engagement among HBCUs, but allows us to tap into the next generation of technology leaders to help ensure our continued development as a company and positively impact the technology industry as a whole.”

Joining Dawurang in the first place team are Oluwadara Dina, Saad Nadeem and Godsheritage Adeoye. Their winning “Z-Save” app is designed to address the disproportionate mortgage rejection rates of black and Latinx borrowers due to low credit scores by providing an alternative way for lenders to assess financial credibility. Users can create a positive payment history and receive a “Z score”, which can be used as an indicator of creditworthiness.

Second place in the Zillow HBCU Hackathon competition

The other winners of the hackathon prizes are Team Straw Hat Crew from Fisk University and First Move from Howard University.

Team Straw Hat Crew won second place and $12,000 for their “Hey Roomie” concept, a Zillow rental hub integration that uses machine learning to pair renters with potential roommates or fashion designers based on housing and lifestyle preferences.

The Straw Hat crew included Collins Ikbei, Suboroshi Ndobuisi and Ilya Okoroh.

The Straw Hat Crew from Fisk University won second place in Zillow's HBCU Housing Hackathon: (LR) Collins Ikpeyi, Sopuruchi Ndubuisi and Elijah Okoroh.

The Straw Hat Crew from Fisk University won second place in Zillow’s HBCU Housing Hackathon: (LR) Collins Ikpeyi, Sopuruchi Ndubuisi and Elijah Okoroh.

Team First Move won third place and the $6,000 prize for “VibeZ,” an app geared toward millennial and Generation Z home shoppers that lets users search for homes based on community preferences, such as access to nightlife, green spaces, the presence of an art scene, and more.

First Move cast members included Bryce Gordon Pinkston, Eve Martin, Ayutunde Ogonroko and Joshua Vesey.

Team First Move from Howard University won third place in Zillow's HBCU Housing Hackathon: (LR) Bryce Gordon-Pinkston, Ife Martin, Ayotunde Ogunroku and Joshua Veasy.

Team First Move from Howard University won third place in Zillow’s HBCU Housing Hackathon: (LR) Bryce Gordon-Pinkston, Ife Martin, Ayotunde Ogunroku and Joshua Veasy.

The semi-final teams were:

Team Atom from Alabama State University, with team members Arnold Behbe, Best Olunose, Robert Mukochora and Lucky Chitondo

Efusa Isoghi, Supumi Popola, Martin Ado-Buahini and Dimitri Watat are the best players in the world

Howard University Rocket with Jeremy White Jr., Karis Lewis, Murrayo Adeyemi and Tyler Williams

Among the judges for the semi-finals was Lakshmi Dixit, Vice President of Zillow Engineering and Technical Operations. Kevin Regensberg, Senior Director of Artistic Products, Zillow; Damian Peters, founder of Wealth Noir; Richard Clay, Investment Partner, Door Room Fund; and Chad Womack, Ph.D., vice president for National Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Programs and Technology Initiatives at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNCF).

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

The final round of the hackathon was judged by Zillow and tech industry leaders including Eric Bailey, Vice President of Experience Design at Zillow. Aldona Clotti, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Zillow; April Daly, software engineer at Etsy; Jonathan Rapp, founder and CEO of Watch The Yard; and Chad Womack, Ph.D., vice president of national programs for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and technology initiatives at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNCF).

About Zillow Group

Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:Z) (NASDAQ:ZG) Visualize real estate to facilitate unlocking the next chapter of life. As the most visited real estate website in the United States, Zillow® and its affiliates offer clients an on-demand experience to sell, buy, lease or finance with transparency and ease.

Affiliates and subsidiaries of the Zillow Group include Zillow®, Zillow Premier Agent®, Zillow Home Loans™, Zillow Closing Services™, Trulia®, Out East®, ShowTime®, Bridge Interactive®, dotloop®, StreetEasy® and HotPads®. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an equal housing lender, NMLS #10287 (

About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the largest and most effective minority education organization in the country. 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 of minority education and college readiness. UNCF and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding approximately 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF operates more than 400 programs, including scholarships, internships, fellowships, mentoring, summer enrichment, curricula and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students in more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of education leadership and its widely recognized brand, ‘mind is a terrible thing to waste. ® Learn more at Or for ongoing updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at Tweet embed.

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