These 5 Orgs Just Landed $100,000 to Connect Philly Youth to Tech

The city has announced its latest Call for Ideas grant recipients.

TechGirlz will receive $17,500 in funding for its “TechShopz in a Box” workshops. Photo by Haley Weiss.

It’s that time of year again: Philly’s Department of Commerce just announced the latest class of StartupPHL grant recipients. A total of five organizations will split $100,000 in the sixth round of the Call for Ideas grant program.

And this time around, the coveted funds will boost groups that connect youth to technology. As the demand for tech talent in Philadelphia grows, the goals identified by each grant recipient are only more important now.

“I am eager to see the impact of our latest Call for Ideas grants as the programs they support help youth across the city develop the important skills required to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “As we move toward an increasingly technology-based economy, it is vital that our young people are prepared with the skilled they need.” 

Both Coded by Kids and TechGirlz, two of Philadelphia’s most popular tech education programs, will receive $17,500 each. The homegrown programs have both received funding from StartupPHL in the past.

Coded by Kids, which provides free tech education, industry exposure and mentorship to Philly children, will use the funds to support First Draft Studios, a teen-run digital design and development shop where teens will design and build websites and apps for local nonprofits or small businesses.

And TechGirlz, which focuses on tech education for middle school girls, will use the grant money to expand their flagship “TechShopz in a Box” workshops that will kick off at Free Library branches next month. In 2017 alone, TechGirlz reached 3,800 girls through 200 workshops in 38 states and 14 countries.

Breakout entrepreneur Kyree Holmes will receive $20,000 of the funding for her burgeoning organization Onyx Valley, the name a clever play on Silicon Valley. The program’s mission is to provide young people of color with pathways to the tech industry. To start, Onyx Valley plans introduce children to design thinking through community events and bring UX (user experience) workshops to local college students seeking technical and professional training skills. Holmes was a member of the Institute of Hip-Hop Entrepreneurship’s first cohort, which just wrapped up nine months of entrepreneur training in July. At the end of the program, Holmes won $10,000 in a capstone pitch competition to jumpstart Onyx Valley.

The largest chunk of the funding will go to the Philadelphia Children’s Foundation, an organization committed to installing internet-ready computers in classrooms and public locations. The program also puts more books in the school libraries that are left and even teaching 3D printing. The best part, though? The program wants to turn 4th and 5th grade students into in-house tech support by combining an existing equipment refurbishing program with computer literacy training.

Grassroots organization VietLead, which works with Philly and South Jersey’s Vitenamese community, will use $15,000 of the fund to support an initiative called Youth Engagement for Social Sustainability. The program will teach young people how to tell community stories with technology and then support the youth as they move to address any issues they identify along the way.

To date, 31 Call for Ideas grants have been awarded since the program’s inception in October 2012.

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