Our Mission - Level the Playing Field

Charlottesville is quickly becoming one of the leading hubs in the country when it comes to innovation. As a city, we have been uniquely positioned due to our size, resources, and connectivity to larger technology firms to be a leader in the field of technology. Unfortunately, even as we have pushed to become a national leader in the tech industry, we have not moved the needle in the digital divide. “We Code, Too” is an initiative that is similar those being advocated on behalf of the likes of Google, Facebook, and Apple to name a few to create a pipeline of Black and Brown young people to get into the technology industry via coding and programming.

However, what if learning to code weren't actually the most important thing? It turns out that research shows that rather than increasing the number of kids who can crank out thousands of lines of JavaScript, we first need to boost the number who understand what code can do. As the cities that have hosted Code for America teams will tell you, the greatest contribution the young programmers bring isn't the software they write. It's the way they think. It's a principle called "computational thinking," and knowing all of the Java syntax in the world won't help if you can't think of good ways to apply it.

Unfortunately, the way computer science is currently taught in high school tends to throw students into the programming deep end, reinforcing the notion that code is just for coders, not artists or doctors or librarians. But there is good news: Researchers have been experimenting with new ways of teaching computer science, with intriguing results. For one thing, they've seen that leading with computational thinking instead of code itself, and helping students imagine how being computer savvy could help them in any career, boosts the number of girls and kids of color taking—and sticking with—computer science. Upending our notions of what it means to interface with computers could help democratize the biggest engine of wealth since the Industrial Revolution.

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Creating a Pipeline

"A program like this in our area could be a game changer. I've been in Charlottesville for 12 years working as an engineer and programmer, and I would always ask where are the other people in my field who look like me. We Code, Too allows us to develop a pipeline to bridge the gap, and a different population of people involved."

— Kofi Kopax, We Code, Too Volunteer