Code4Life is a first of its kind after school program developed by our charitable arm, the Economic Growth DC Foundation, in partnership with Accenture. It teaches basic computer programming skills to middle-school and (eventually) high school boys and girls in the District of Columbia public and charter school systems.
The program was in design and development from the latter part of 2013 through the first half of 2014. It launched successfully in the fall of 2014 at the new KIPP NE Academy in Trinidad and has since expanded to three additional schools.
In addition to the KIPP, the program currently operates at Eliot-Hine Middle School on Capitol Hill, Francis-Stevens Middle School close to the campus of George Washington University, and at Girls Inc., an after-school program on the campus of Howard University.
Accenture volunteers teach Module One at KIPP NE Academy
The class meets for two hours after school, one day per week, for 8 consecutive weeks. Our current trajectory has us teaching one eight week module per semester. If resources permit, we would be interested in teaching two 8 week modules per semester for a total of 64 hours of instruction time per student, per school year.
The program is designed for students to remain with us working on progressively more complex programming through their senior year of high school. Code4Life participates in the “District of Learning” digital badging program. If a student remains in the program through high school, they can receive a minimum of 14 digital badges which will be used as credentialing tool for help in obtaining scholarships and employment.
Technical staff at Accenture developed the curriculum for Module One based on a programming language developed at the University of California at Berkeley called SNAP. It’s a visually oriented entry-level programming language perfect for introducing middle-school students to programming for the first time.
Module Two is an HTML and CSS class that was developed by IT staff at George Washington University. Module Three, which is currently under development, will be an Introduction to Big Data and Data Analytics.
Accenture provided most of the volunteer instructors for Module One. This past semester’s volunteers came from Accenture, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, and Howard University. We had 65 students and over 50 volunteers in the program last semester.
In the fall, we’re expanding to 8 classrooms and over 100 students. We’ll need to continue to expand our volunteer base. As the local technology industry stands to be the biggest beneficiary of Code4Life, we intend to attract more volunteers from the District’s startup and technology communities.
A Code4Life student presents her final project
While volunteers donate their time in a variety of ways, the most critical service they provide is in-classroom instruction. Classroom instructors become part of a 3-5 person team that is responsible for teaching each of the three existing modules in the 8 classrooms at our four schools. A team teaching approach that focuses on individualized instruction is used.
The total time commitment for a classroom volunteer is about 17 hours for a semester. That includes an online instructor training session, and the 16 hours of class-time spread evenly over a two month period.
Volunteers have told us that Code4Life makes for such a good volunteer opportunity because it is not an open-ended commitment. A volunteer commits to the 17 hours over the 8 week period and then you’re done. If you find it enjoyable, we’ll certainly ask you to volunteer again next semester, but there is no obligation. For more information on volunteering, email us at email@example.com, or call our executive director Dave Oberting at 202.670.4403.
If you are interested in supporting the program financially, visit the Economic Growth DC Foundation website. The Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) public charity. Your contribution is fully tax-deductible as a charitable gift.
Click below to see Code4Life featured on the Harris’ Heroes segment of a recent ABC7 broadcast: