We reach underrepresented students and inspire them to pursue Computer Science.

Technology has become central to our lives, with no exception for those that are women, low-income, or a US ethnic minority. Yet, the lack of representation of those three groups in technology means their issues are rarely considered,1 and perpetuates economic inequality. (Figure 1.)

While access to Computer Science classes has increased,2 industry diversity is projected to decline without additional outreach to increase motivation for traditionally underrepresented students.3

One reason: few underrepresented students choose to enroll in high school Computer Science courses due to social pressures.4

Figure 1. Diversity at leading tech companies is lacking.
Sources: company and press reports.

We run four programs in 43 cities.

Our programs attract grade 6-12 students enrolled in art, music, and acting classes, generate learner motivation, and provide support to improve long-term outcomes.

  • CodeDay is an event which attracts creative students and creates CS learner motivation. The program partners with teachers of creative classes to help students create video games in 24 hours.

  • CodeBreak is a summer program which helps new programmers feel ready to pursue a CS degree. Students work with a mentor from a local tech company to build an app in three weeks.

  • SRND Chat creates a sense of community and supplies 24/7, real-time coding help for students across the US throughout the year.

  • CodeClass provides partner schools with introductory CS curriculum to attract and motivate students without prior interest.

Our programs use creative, student-driven projects, which attract and motivate non-CS students.

Our team uses decades of experience as teachers, researchers, and business leaders to design our programs to take advantage of research and educational theory.

In particular, our programs work together to maximize situated learning — through a focus on student-directed projects presented in a familiar context (art) — and encourage legitimate peripheral participation — by recruiting both new and experienced students to create a representative community of practice.5

Program instruction is provided to students in the context of their projects by our staff in partnership with industry mentors. We provide standardized intro CS outcomes personalized to the specific project and students through heavy use of formative assessment techniques.6

Students work on a game at CodeDay.

We attract participants who are significantly more diverse than most Computer Science students.

Our introductory programs are designed to attract students with no prior interest in Computer Science (Figure 2) who are enrolled in art, music, and acting classes. To achieve this, they offer art teachers an opportunity for situated learning relevant to their subject: students use their creative talents to make a game.

Figure 2. 75% of participants had low or no interest in Computer Science.
Initial survey data; years 2015 and 2016

Because we target these groups, we are able to attract many students who are underrepresented in Computer Science. To quantify these demographics, we conduct a pre-event survey of all program participants; on average 51% of participants complete this survey. (Figure 3.)

We find that nearly 70% of participants identify as a member of a group disproportionately underrepresented in Computer Science. (That is: women and non-binary students, students who identify as Latino/a or African Amercian, and students from low-income backgrounds.)

Figure 3. 69% of program participants identified with at least one underrepresented group.
Initial survey data; years 2015 and 2016

Our diverse participants see long-term behavior changes.

Attracting a diverse group of students is only the first step — our programs must also drive long-term motivation changes.

We measure lagging CS behavior changes to ensure real change. Before students participate, they're asked to indicate their existing interest in Computer Science; we then ask these students whether they continued to code several months after participating.

Our programs have operated continuously since 2011, with more than 25,000 participants to date. We have found that 70% of participants with low or no pre-event motivation continued to code in the three months after attending an event, excluding courses in which they were previously enrolled. (Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Three months after our programs, 70% of no-to-low-interest participants were still coding.
Follow-up survey data; years 2015 and 2016

Our programs help change community perception of Computer Science.

When asked to describe a programmer, many students still list common TV stereotypes: a man in a hoodie typing ones and zeros in green text on a black screen in a darkened basement. This does not seem achievable or desirable to students who do not identify as technical. This, combined with few peer role-models, creates social pressure which can keep students from pursuing technical interests.4

Our programs are fun and creative, helping to generate positive word-of-mouth which can change community perception in the long-term.

Our programs achieve an average Net Promoter Score — an industry measure which estimates the likelihood of positive word-of-mouth — of 81, compared to an average of 64 for most education programs.7 In future events, nearly 30% of low- or no-interest participants indicated they registered on the advice of a friend. (Figure 5.)

Figure 5. After attending an event, students are likely to encourage low- or now-interest friends to attend.
Pre-event survey data; years 2015 and 2016

Let's work together to increase Computer Science graduates in your community.

Schools are invited to register for our two open-enrollment programs:

  • CodeDay: events nationwide in November, February, and May. Registration open throughout the year. ($7/student.)

  • CodeBreak: Summer registration from May-June; winter registration from November-December. ($10/student.)

Our chat is only available to students who have previously participated in one of our programs. If you are interested in our CodeClass curriculum, please contact us.