Tonight, 25 teens from Englewood Codes will demonstrate their websites at Kennedy King College. Englewood Codes is a 10 week summer program run by Demond Drummer of Teamwork Englewood. The program teaches kids not just web development, but teamwork and leadership.
Last week, Demond dropped by the OpenGov Hack Night to talk about the program, what the group was able to accomplish, lessons learned and the future of Englewood Codes.
Teamwork Englewood was first formed in 2003 as part of the New Communities Program sponsored by LISC – Chicago and the MacArthur Foundation. They’ve done work in the Englewood neighborhood to help increase the digital adoption rate. This includes helping to run the Englewood Portal and helping to connect local residents to technology.
This included an effort in 2011 to teach 15 teens how to code over the course of six weeks.
The effort generated a lot of buzz and youth in the neighborhood started asking about the program again in 2012. In 2013, an effort was launched on Kickstarter to run the program again – this time for ten weeks and using Raspberry Pi’s.
Getting the project launched:
The project had a great amount of support throughout the city and the community including the Department of Innovation and Technology, After School Matters, LISC-Chicago and the City Colleges of Chicago which donated space for the program.
World Business Chicago had recently started a curated Kickstarter page to highlight projects that involved community development called Seed Chicago. The project was featured on the page and began to buzz on social media.
Back this! – A 10-week summer project where teens from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood will learn how to code! – http://t.co/KUaf7Ln9UC
— The Starter League (@starterleague) April 6, 2013
— Derek Eder (@derekeder) April 6, 2013
Shit yes, Englewood Codes is fully funded!! http://t.co/StZu61Md1a
— dan sinker (@dansinker) April 6, 2013
But Teamwork Englewood didn’t stop there – they created a stretch goal to expand the number of students to 30 – and received the funding to it. In total, the project had 167 backers. (Including $1,000 from Smart Chicago as Demo Day host.)
What Englewood Codes Accomplished
During the 10 week course, the students learned HTML, CSS, Bootstrap and working with GitHub. However, the program didn’t just teach code the program also taught teamwork and leadership. Listen below as Demond describes how they formed the students into teams and encouraged the group to work together to solve problems.
The programs also made great use of the GitHub platform. Because GitHub can be used using just brower tools, it didn’t require Englewood Codes to install anything on the computers. Students created different branches of their work, forked other student’s codes, and used the gist feature to post notes and staff used it to post lesson plans.
Demond also shared some lessons learned from running the program.
- Small is beautiful: Small class sizes allowed for more one on one interaction.
- Go deep VS going broad: Going more in-depth on topics and not rushing the course.
- Debug bad learning habits: There’s always something to do and learn, you can go ahead of the teachers, you can learn from your peers!
- Teamwork makes the dream work!
- Make it real: Connect what we’re learning to the real world.
- Live in the cloud: GitHub was amazing because Demond could see every student’s code.
- Dedicated space is ideal
What’s next for Englewood Codes
Englewood Codes will continue as a fall after school program. Englewood Codes will also help jumpstart a middle school computer club. The program will also connect students with professional mentors.
Englewood Codes will also take on a greater advocacy role. In order for Chicago to grow their own talent, Chicago will need to maintain computer science teachers in neighborhood schools. Englewood Codes will also push for a federal mandate for computer science classes in schools.
Englewood Codes Demo Day:
Tonight, the students will demonstrate their work at Kennedy King College. You can get a sneak peek at their projects by watching the video below: