Coded by Kids Wants to Teach Even More Students How to Code

The nonprofit just turned three and launched a $50K Indiegogo campaign to support expansion.
Mayor Kenney at a Coded by Kids workshop. Photo courtesy of Coded by Kids.

Mayor Kenney at a Coded by Kids workshop. Photo courtesy of Coded by Kids.

Coded by Kids is growing up. The grassroots nonprofit, which trains the city’s youth in computer science, just celebrated its third anniversary and announced some big expansion plans.

The organization has launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, #CbK300 to raise about $50,000 to triple the nearly 100 students it currently serves in schools and community recreation centers each week.

They’re also calling for more school and nonprofit partners who might be interested in running a 12-week coding after-school program during the 2016-17 school year.

Since founding the organization in 2013, CEO Sylvester Mobley is unwavering on his mission. Coded by Kids wants to use its project-based curriculum to give kids hard coding and design skills (like advanced HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) and ultimately usher them to tech and tech adjacent careers, the jobs of Philadelphia’s growing innovation economy. The program also focuses on boosting kids’ problem-solving and leadership skills and ability to work as a part of a team.

“Much of Philadelphia is succeeding, including its vibrant tech ecosystem. But too few of the city’s kids who are most in need of support are benefitting from this boom,” said Mobley, “Coded by Kids is doing everything we can to ensure our city and our students are leading the way in technology.”

Mobley also says the program can give students confidence, especially the students who struggle with school the most. And the students least engaged in school, tend to be the students who are the most engaged with coding, Mobley told Philadelphia magazine.

The organization’s social justice leaning also remains firm as they look to expand: The chance to supply Philadelphia’s youth with quality tech skills can eventually address the city’s high poverty and unemployment rates, bolster school retention for students of color through grade school and college and ultimately push diverse groups into the traditionally white-male dominated tech space.

Sylvester Mobley far right at a Coded by Kids class. Photo courtesy Coded by Kids.

Sylvester Mobley far right at a Coded by Kids class. Photo courtesy Coded by Kids.

In the past three years, the organization has run after-school programs at the String Theory Vine Street Campus School, Center City’s Freire Charter High School, and at the vocational tech high school Mastbaum. Additionally, they’ve operated a volunteer-run program at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center in Graduate Hospital, which serves students from all around the city.

“Schools and nonprofits come to us all the time and tell us, ‘we like what you’re doing, but we can’t afford it,’” Maggie Deptola, Coded by Kids’ operations manager told Philadelphia magazine. “There’s not a lack of want, there’s a lack of funding.”

With the funds the organization hopes to raise, Deptola says they would like to open up 12 additional after-school coding classes beginning after January 2017 at nonprofit offices and schools across the city. So far three partners in Fishtown and three partners in West Philly have signed on.

With a recent $17,500 grant from AT&T, Coded by Kids will launch a program at the Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center in North Philadelphia and at the Dorothy Emmanuel Recreation Center in Mt. Airy by the end of 2016.

“We are continuing to expand our geographic footprint with the help of many of the city’s most connected community groups,” said Deptola.

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