Four years ago, tech entrepreneur Ryan Seashore was looking for a hands-on coding class in Washington D.C.–where he lived at the time– and beyond in other cities, but he was coming up empty. Seashore realized that if he was having a hard time, others with less access to education might be struggling, too. So he took the initiative and in 2011 he launched CodeNow, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching computer programming to underserved high school students.
Today, CodeNow is based in New York City and has served more than 400 students, many of whom are minorities and young girls (two underrepresented communities in the tech industry). According to Seashore, more than 45 percent of their alumni are young women and more than 90 percent of their students receive a free or reduced priced lunch.
“What we’re trying to do is to get kids excited about learning programming and let them decide if it’s something they want to continue with” said Seashore. He explained that part of the problem is that few high schools teach computer science classes, which limits students’ exposure to the subject therefore hindering their chances of pursuing degrees in computer science.
CodeNow has already expanded to the Bay Area, Washington D.C. and most recently Miami, thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation. By the end of the year, Seashore hopes to serve 600-700 students, with the goal of scaling up to a few thousand in the coming years.