The Economic Growth DC Foundation, our charitable organization, focuses on education and workforce development programming in the District. Code4Life is an after-school program created in partnership with Accenture that teaches basic computer programming skills to middle-school (and eventually high-school) students in DCPS and the charter system.
As the story below indicates, the program is fun for the students, but it is also designed to open a door to a high-wage occupation that doesn’t necessarily require a four-year college degree. In that sense, it’s as much a workforce development program as it is an educational one.
The District aspires to be the Silicon Valley of the east coast. We’re a long way from there, and the number one thing our tech scene needs is a large quantity of the people who staff and create startups. We need what is quite literally an army of coders. This means we’ll have to convince the people with that set of skills to move here from around the country, or we’ve got to build the coders from scratch. Convincing successful, well-compensated professionals to move here from an area with great weather and a great lifestyle is a difficult business.
Thanks to Leon Harris for making us part of Harris’ Heroes and thanks to producer Robin Gould for a great story. The expansion of Code4Life to additional schools in the fall hinges on our ability to fund that expansion. Consider donating at the Economic Growth DC Foundation website. All contributions to the Economic Growth DC Foundation are fully tax-deductible as a charitable gift.
WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Fifth and sixth graders at D.C.’s KIPP Northeast Academy are learning HTML and CSS. This week, the lesson is on how to change text and background colors.
Volunteers work with students in the Code4Life program. (WJLA photo)
It’s part of a program called Code4Life, designed to teach basic computer programming skills by making it fun. The nonprofit Economic Growth D.C. Foundation created the program for middle school students with a specific goal.
Executive Director Dave Oberting says that goal is to “get them on a pathway to a potentially high-wage occupation.”
Instructors and assistants are all professional software developers who volunteer their time to mentor the students.
“It’s very fulfilling to see them start off with nothing and not really knowing a lot about computers to be able to program their own web pages,” said volunteer Erika Del Valle.
As the students experience success, they gain confidence.
“In the beginning it was hard, but now that I’m learning more and more about it, it’s not that hard,” said 11-year-old Kwencie Stewart.
“The most fun thing is to see that your creation never stops, and, like, there’s no limit to your imagination when you create websites,” 11-year-old Isaiah Jackson said.
Oberting says the skills they gain will help them for life.
“Not all of these kids will end up in a computer science field, but a lot of them will and the others will benefit from having the experience,” he said.
By the end of the semester, students will have created their own websites using the same tools and techniques that professional web developers use. Currently, 60 students at four locations participate in Code4Life.
Next year, the goal is to teach the students Java Script, and the Economic Growth DC Foundation hopes to expand the curriculum each year to follow the students through the end of high school.