Natalie Wexler -- DC Schools Are Missing an Opportunity

By Natalie Wexler

Washington, DC -- That’s the theory behind the efforts of one DC nonprofit to bring coding classes to low-income kids beginning in 5th grade. The Economic Growth DC Foundation is in its second year of sponsoring its Code4Life program, which runs free weekly classes at one DCPS and two charter schools. The idea is that students will remain in the afterschool program through high school, receiving a series of digital badges that will ultimately render them employable as coders.

On a recent afternoon at KIPP DC Northeast Academy, kids in the program weren’t focused on their future career prospects. But they were engaged and having fun. In one classroom, a half-dozen 5th-graders were using a simple program called SNAP to create intricate moving designs on their laptops. Down the hall, a group of 6th- and 7th-graders were learning how to use Excel spreadsheets to manipulate data.

Code4Life Teaches Vital Skills

Washington, DC -- During the 2016 election cycle, there’s been a lot of talk about technology jobs going to foreign workers. But, the truth is, there hasn’t been enough focus on encouraging young students to embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields in the United States, leaving young Americans lagging behind their international peers academically and later professionally.

Unfortunately, students living in America’s inner cities are often among the last candidates either qualified or considered for these positions. In fact, white men hold about 90 percent of the computer science jobs in the United States.

One nonprofit in our nation’s capital is working to reverse this trend. Economic Growth DC Foundation, an economic policy advocacy organization focused on the city’s stagnant growth, launched Code4Life, an initiative that provides D.C.’s poorest students with the opportunity to learn how to program from experienced computer engineers.

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