CommunityCode taps technology to power up youth, communities
Social entrepreneurs Darryl McCune and Hugh G. Martin, and their budding not-for-profit, are enablers.
Founded in 2013, CommunityCode’s mission is two-fold – to introduce students to the world of information technology, enabling them to excel personally and professionally, while addressing an identified shortage of minorities and females in computer science-related careers. “What CommunityCode does is introduce underserved youth to opportunities by empowering them with technical and life skills that can positively impact the communities around them,” said McCune, a 2014 Clemson University MBAe graduate, and the start-up’s chief information officer. CommunityCode recently received two grants, one anonymous for nearly $33,000 to purchase computers and another from Piedmont Natural Gas for $3,000, to introduce students to information technology in summer camps taking place throughout June and July in Greenville, Anderson and Pickens counties. The not-for-profit operates out of incubator space at the ONE Building in Greenville. “We teach coding and engineering fundamentals with the goal of opening students’ eyes to career opportunities in the information technology sector,” said Martin, an Anderson native, Harvard graduate and CEO of CommunityCode. “It’s where many of the employment opportunities are going to be for our generation and the next. There will be an estimated 1.4 million computer science jobs open by 2020 and only 400,000 people are currently qualified to fill those positions.” CommunityCode, launched in Anderson, has implemented a combination of classroom instruction, teacher training sessions, and interactive life skills seminars to reach more than 2,500 youths and 900 community members, including parents and teachers, in its short existence. DaWayne Nettles, former elementary school teacher and current student services program coordinator at the University of South Carolina, has seen for himself the potential CommunityCode can have on a young person’s life.
“One of the best parts of being a teacher is when you see a light bulb go on and realize the student is experiencing an aha moment,” said Nettles. “While teaching computer coding to a broad spectrum of students last year, I witnessed that sudden realization, and sense of achievement many times. Opening young eyes and minds to new possibilities is a rewarding experience, and CommunityCode has that capability.” McCune said the task of preparing students to become qualified computer science professionals shouldn’t fall solely on the shoulders of our schools. “We see a need for educational accelerators, like CommunityCode, to supplement what is being provided through traditional STEM education,” said McCune. “Through our workshops and after-school efforts, CommunityCode is also engaging with minorities and females, who are sorely underrepresented in computer science careers.” Martin said CommunityCode’s approach to transforming communities involves bringing together parents and students. “Through our summer camps and after-school programs, we challenge ourselves to tap into students’ inherent creativity and problem-solving skills, and to encourage them to work in teams,” said Martin. “Crucial to changing attitudes and trajectories is parental involvement, which is why we advocate for parents to learn computer skills alongside their children. Gaining parental buy-in can be a huge step in transforming communities for generations to come.” In addition to bringing families together, CommunityCode engages the support of local companies in helping transform their communities. “Companies can partner with us in a variety of ways. This could include corporate volunteers, equipment donations, operating support or event hosting,” said Martin. “As a 501 c 3 tax-exempt organization, donations and other contributions are generally tax-deductible.” More information on CommunityCode is available at www.communitycode.org or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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