“If you have someone who gets really excited about coding, but she can only code in class for 30 minutes a day, it’s going to be hard for her to compete.”
San Fransicso, CA — October 21, 2019
CodeDay, a 24-hour programming event hosted seasonally in 50 cities, is giving hundreds of laptops to low-income students who attend this school year, starting with its November 9th events.
Despite efforts to increase equality in computer science education, access to a computer is a big barrier for many students. Nearly one-third of schools serving low-income students now offer classes in computer science, but only half of these families have a home computer, according to a 2019 study by the Pew Research Center.
A majority of these students are also Black or Latinx, populations which are underrepresented in technology careers.
“Right now, these students can’t even do coding homework,” said Tyler Menezes, Executive Director at SRND. “Meanwhile, you go a few miles away, and kids are learning online with trial-and-error and YouTube videos. If you have someone who gets really excited about coding, but she can only code in class for 30 minutes a day, it’s going to be hard for her to compete.”
At CodeDay events, high school students learn about coding by pitching ideas for games or apps, then working in teams with mentors to create their ideas. No prior coding experience is required to participate.
The nonprofit has purchased and refurbished hundreds of laptops for CodeDay attendees using donations from individuals in the technology industry. Students from schools which have a low-income, underrepresented population are eligible to take home a laptop at the event.
Travis Heppe, a software engineer at a large tech company, led the effort because he was concerned about equity in the technology industry. “I didn’t realize until recently that the reasons are questions of access even more than of interest. I also didn’t realize until recently just how bad the numbers really were. If even one of these laptops gets a minority student into a high-paying tech job, the whole thing will have been worth it.”
Interested high school teachers, administrators, and families can learn more about CodeDay at CodeDay.org, but must contact the nonprofit directly for a free ticket and to register for a laptop.