Over the last two years, we have been supporting an organization that aligns closely with our commitment to innovation, technology and fostering talent. That organization is CodeNow, a non-profit that teaches young adults to code at no cost. In 2015, our donation on behalf of our clients and partners helped CodeNow reach more than 1,000 students, and we are pumped to see what’s next in 2016.
CodeNow Founder Ryan Seashore took time to share his thoughts on the non-profit’s past, present, and promising future.
1. How were you inspired to start CodeNow?
“Years ago I wanted to learn to code myself. This was before learn to code schools or online tools existed. I had trouble finding resources that would allow me to learn in a way I felt comfortable – hands-on, project-based learning. At the time I was living in DC, which has one of the worst education systems in the country. It hit me that if I had trouble finding resources, then it was probably even more difficult for young adults and students to find them. That lack of resources could impact them a lot since they’d be missing out on what could be invaluable job skills. It was a problem I thought I could help solve, so I quit my job and started CodeNow in February 2011. We’re celebrating our 5-year anniversary next month.”
2. What’s one student or volunteer story you love to tell?
“An amazing example of the promise of CodeNow put into action is one of our first students, Wilfried. In 2011, Wilfried was 14 years old and participated in one of our first CodeNow workshops in Washington DC. By the end of the weekend, he was passing out business cards that said, “future engineer.” After the workshop, he went on to practice his skills five days a week. Within a year he came back as a student trainer. And that was just the beginning.
In 2013, he was honored by President Obama at the White House for winning a national video game challenge. The following year he was accepted to Rochester Institute of Technology to study Computer Science, and just this year he placed second at MHacks and earned a trip to the global hackathon in South Korea. He’s also spent summers as a Google Computer Science summer intern and last year he received a paid internship through CodeNow to work at Bloomberg.
Through his early exposure to computer science, Wilfried found his path. It wasn’t something his school could provide him with though. Nonprofit programs are important and CodeNow is proving that they can work.”
3. Whether it’s building games, apps, or websites, what technology are your students most excited to build?
“This depends on the student — there is such a vast mix of interest and backgrounds and you never know what a student is going to really take to. That’s part of the fun! For us, though, we get excited about the ‘a-ha’ moment when a student has been struggling with a hard problem and the moment they are able to solve it. At that moment it all makes sense.”
4. What do you think has made CodeHow, your peer-to-peer learning interface, so successful?
“We found that there was no online content teaching coding that our students could relate to. Most of the online learn to code videos were made by adults for adults. This caused us to create CodeHow, learn to code videos by students for students. These videos are reflective of the student population we are serving which makes the content more relatable.”
5. What are you & CodeNow excited about in 2016?
“We just announced through the White House that we’re committed to helping 1,000 underrepresented high school students learn to code this year. We’ve got great partners to help us do this – including Opera Mediaworks – and it’s a major goal for us. It’s also a significant jump from the 600 students we worked with in 2015.
We’re also really excited for the second year of our internship program, which places 25 CodeNow alumni now in college with paid internships over their summer. Last year, our alumni interned at companies like Bloomberg, Infor and Microsoft among others. To learn more about our internship program please go to http://codenow.org/internship/.”