In the United States, there has been growing attention drawn to the staggering diversity gap that exists in the technology industry— as of 2018, less than 20% of the the tech workforce identifies as Black or Latino. While many agree that education is key to combating this trend, in 2016, only 15% of computer science degrees awarded in the United States were to students identifying as Black or Latino. Furthermore, less than 40% of K-12 schools in the United States offer computer programming courses. The continual lack of computer programming courses to children at an early age only serves to further the underrepresentation of people of color in the technology industry.
Citizen Schools works to provide our students with unique opportunities that encourage the development of essential 21st-century skills—particularly digital literacy. Citizen Schools New York’s Coding Academy, launched in the 2017-18 academic year, works to develop these skills through an intensive, year-long coding program for middle school students. By providing weekly one-on-one sessions with a mentor who works as a professional in the computer science industry, Coding Academy allows students the opportunity to learn and master the basics of coding. During this unique, individualized experience, these volunteers can tailor the Citizen Schools curriculum to suit their students’ particular needs. Our hope is that the students in this program will be inspired to pursue further STEM-based educational opportunities and careers.
Since its initial launch, Coding Academy has expanded and is now being offered at three of our campus partners; in collaboration with Google, Amazon, and Capital One, we are now able to serve more than 45 students per year. Partnerships such as these unlock our students’ potential through access to the right knowledge and education, as well as to dedicated volunteer professionals who are invested in our students’ success.
We had the opportunity to sit in on a Coding Academy session hosted by Capital One. One of the coaches spoke highly about their experience and had particular pride in three of the students, who had the highest participation rates in the group.
We are proud to partner with companies like Capital One, which highly values expanding educational opportunities for individuals from all walks of life. We are grateful for Capital One’s continued investment in Coding Academy and its clear dedication to the skill development our students need for the 21st -century workforce.