kicked off our Summer of Code on Saturday June 17th during the 62nd Annual Juneteenth Festival
in San Francisco. We hosted the one day game development class in coordination with the Urban Game Suite
which also included workshops during the weekend with famed animator Leo Sullivan the Emmy Award winning animator of Fat Albert, The Hulk, Batman, and the Fantastic Four.
During this workshop BGC introduced boys and girls as young as 7 to game development utilizing the Microsoft product KODU. We taught the workshop interactively using the PC interface and incorporated pairs programming, and near peer mentors into the mix. In fact in addition to a wonderful group of talented female software engineers from our BGC volunteer team, we had TAs/and mentors from ages 9 to 17 who jumped right in to teach other students the basics of creating a video game for the xBox.
Kodu is a game development tool which works on both a PC and Xbox via a simple visual programming language. The kids quickly picked up the basics and began coding in no time. They were able to create their own interactive video games and share them with the class during the final presentations.
This was one of the first classes BGC has taught with a mixed gender focus and it went smashingly well. In fact we even got the parents (and grandparents to stick around for class and join in the experience of seeing their kids get excited about programming and engineering. The best quote of the day by far was the comment by one of our students at the end of the day. He asked "so is this what an software engineer does? Then I'm interested in being an engineer".
What a rewarding way to end the day and an exciting beginning to our 90 day campaign to introduce more than 200 kids of color to computer programming and technology in 7 cities. Our journey has just begun and we looking forward to every step!Happy Father's Day and Happy Juneteenth to all of our friends and supporters!~BlackGirlsCODEFollow our campaign on Indiegogo: http://igg.me/p/108824?a=620519
In the beginning...April 2011 seems just like yesterday when myself and an amazing group of THREE (yes you read that correctly) friends pooled together our time and personal resources to plant the seeds for BlackGirlsCODE. Our beginnings as a non-profit organization focusing on introducing girls of color to careers in technology through classes in computer programming were both humble and sincere. Our team included myself; an electrical engineer by trade, a business colleague and friend from the biotech field, another friend and business associate with a science background who was once a middle school teacher, and a lone Code for America Fellow our only "true" coder who we relied on immensely! But although we may have been lacking in numbers and been slight newbies in the coding skills, we made up for these deficiencies with our passion and dedication. We all shared a passion to expose girls of color to the many opportunities which abound in STEM fields especially technology. To be honest we found it unbelievable that when we launched BlackGirlsCODE there were no other organizations anywhere focused solely on training girls of color about computer programming and technology. We were the first and we wanted to expose girls from underrepresented communities to the opportunities which existed just a few miles away from our Bayview-Hunter's Point classroom in Silicon Valley. We were determined to make it happen so we got to work and bootstrapped our first pilot class in October. When I look back on those early days I truly believe we were moved by passion and driven by vision. We planned for only 6 girls in our pilot class and saw our numbers grow three times that during our first few classes. The girls kept coming and amazed us with their ability to grasp the complex topics. They literally took to programming as they say "like fish to water". They inspired us to keep going.
We have been truly blessed to see our program, started from such humble beginnings, continue to grow and expand. We launched a pilot class in Chicago in May and saw our June "Build a Webpage in a Day Class
" in San Francisco sell out in just 2 weeks with more than 50 girls and a huge waiting list. We were honored to be selected as a Google RISE
recipient in 2012 and were very lucky that progressive companies and organizations such as ThoughtWorks
and others, saw the potential in our work and have offered their resources and facilities to help us grow. We are truly grateful for this support as well as the many volunteers who volunteer their time as mentors in our classes in multiple cities. But there is still so much work to do. We are still primarily operated as a grassroots organization and although we continue to see exponential growth and demand for our programs we have struggled to secure the funding we need to support our girls. We launched our 2012 Summer of Code
to serve two parallel goals: to meet the growing demand for our unique and disruptive program model by expanding beyond the San Francisco bay area and teaching more than 300 students the basics of computer programming; and to engage our base of supporters from the GROUND UP
to help create meaningful change for girls in our society. As the founder of BlackGirlsCODE I continue to be encouraged each and every day by the girls we serve and steadfastly believe that we have truly MADE A DIFFERENCE
. There are certainly many worthy causes in the "sea of turmoil" in our world today. Yet I believe strongly that it is both important and necessary that we invest in our youth and our girls. These young bright minds are a precious and undervalued commodity that we must continue to cultivate and grow. They are the future. They are the hope. They are the DREAMS OF TOMORROW