February brings a cold snap, but our team is humming to begin our 2015 Summer Intensive recruitment drive. We are thrilled that hundreds of people from parents, teachers, school principals and elected officials are clamoring for their youth to be included in our groundbreaking programming.
Personally, I want to highlight some of our most exciting developments moving into 2015.
We’ve had over 76 young high school boys of color participate in our all-day workshops, which we use to generate awareness and interest in our 6-week Summer Intensive program. Over 60 tech professionals have served as mentors to our boys, helping them deepen their knowledge of coding and the careers in the tech industry. And nearly 40 tech companies, schools and organizations have joined our ecosystem as community partners – ensuring that our students receive industry exposure, training, mentor support, and educational resources.
After exposure to our workshops, mentors, and community partners, over 95% of our boys, when surveyed, stated that our program led them to consider strongly pursuing a tech career path.
Our pilot 2014 Summer Intensive is now a proven success, with an independent research firm confirming that we have increased our students technical skills, entrepreneurial confidence and desire to pursue a career in the technology industry. All 100% of our graduates last summer are now planning to pursue a tech-related career post-program, and 95% are now strongly considering a career in computer science. We feel these results are extraordinary, and we’re excited to share our story with the world as we expand in 2015.
Based on these successes, we are now investing significant time and resources into formalizing our Intensive curriculum. Our Intensive is a scalable program, but curriculum investment is required to make it replicable.
We have great plans for the Intensive this year. By the end of 2015, we plan to have graduated at least 60 students through our Intensive program. For context, only 68 African American students passed the AP Computer Science exam in New York State last year, with a passing rate of 33.8%. Our work can make meaningful change in our space.
Most excitingly, our first class of All Stars is doing extremely well. Our students have attended numerous coding events on their own, including Penn Apps, a monthly event at Spotify, and My Brother’s Keeper Hackathon in Philadelphia. One of our students won a $1,500 prize at a Hackathon organized by our community partner Digital Undivided. They are also very actively participating in a shared Facebook group.
Two of our students have even created their own organization, the Young Hackers. Austin and Mamadou, both 16, met during our Intensive and decided to organize a Meetup for high school students. With support from our instructors and team, they ran a hugely successful hackathon for 100 students hosted by our site sponsor, Alley NYC. Six months later, the Young Hackers have partnered with numerous coding education programs, including our curriculum partner, Flatiron School, to run events.
Giving motivated but disconnected students the skills, network and exposure to integrate into the technology sector is at the crux of our programming. And we are gratified to see our unique curriculum and approach bearing fruit so soon.
On the other hand, several of our students have not been able to participate in some fantastic opportunities because they could not afford the travel costs to the event. We have many more good stories to share as our alumni take flight, but we are also mindful that our program must be a multi-year commitment. To truly be an ecosystem of access, we must secure new funding so that we can continue to support our All Stars. Soon, they’ll be able to find employment at technology companies, and start supporting the next generation of All Stars in return.
PS. On the personal front, my husband and I welcomed our baby daughter Sasha to the world in November. She is providing joy to us and a lot of amusement to her older brother. Bringing forth a new life to the world grounds me and reminds me that while we should remember and learn from the past our eyes must stay on the future, because that is where our potential lies.