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Computer programming is an essential skill in the high-tech economy, and students in East Palo Alto (EPA) do not have access to resources for learning programming.
CodeCamp’s mission is to empower youth from low-income backgrounds with programming skills with which they can enhance their earning power and start their own projects. Computer programming is not only an economically valuable skill, but a vehicle by which CodeCamp students can become motivated to excel in other areas such as math and reading.
Rafael and I started teaching computer science and web development at an after-school program at the East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy during the Winter of 2014. A few months into the program, we took our students to a hackathon called HSHacks, where they had an absolute blast and finally understood why programming is exciting and empowering. Our students returned to our after school program after the hackathon with renewed enthusiasm, and we decided to create a programming summer camp for EPA students based on the hackathon format. This is CodeCamp. Since then, we’ve been holding four-hour hackathons in East Palo Alto to expose new students to coding and hone the skills of our current students.
During the schoolyear, we will hold bi-weekly, daytime hacakthons on the weekends at the Green Street school in East Palo Alto for both CodeCamp graduates and students from East Palo Alto who have not participated in CodeCamp but want to learn computer programming. At these hackathons we will provide both technical and career mentorship for our CodeCamp graduates. This includes helping students work on their own personal programming projects and helping them prepare for technical interviews if they choose to pursue a summer internship at a tech company.
Weeks 3 and 4: Team project. Design and build a game or website, get feedback from users, pitch on Demo Day.