More than two dozen young women from District of Columbia Housing Authority communities created their own webpages from scratch over the past two weekends.
The girls were taking part in AspireIT, a program that connects high school and college-aged women with girls in grades K-12 who are interested in technology. The program is part of the National Center for Women and Information Technology’s (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing program, which provides a long-term community for females of all ages in the world of technology. The program encourages and supports the participants through their computing education and development.
“My dream for each of you is that you are able to enter this big world and get a job. To create a business so you can make the money to take care of your family. So you have a skill you can build on,” said DCHA Executive Director Adrianne Todman. “This will give you a leg up on your futures. Girl power!”
Girls from Hopkins Apartments, Greenleaf Gardens, Lincoln Heights, Benning Terrace, Garfield Terrace, and Woodland Terrace, who are entering grades 6 to 10, spent two Saturdays building their webpages. They listened to a presentation by Kavya Kopparapu, who is a rising junior at Thomas Jefferson High School and AspireIT program leader. She prepared a webpage template for each girl to use. As the first day progressed, each girl had outfitted their pages with photos and a few lines of information, flipping back and forth easily from the HTML coding window to their webpages. By the second Saturday, the girls were asking how to change the colors of their text, add GIFs, and more.
“I love that they are helping each other,” said Kopparapu. “It shows they are learning.”
Once finished with their pages, the girls had to present them in front of their classmates. Each young woman was presented with a gift bag that included an AspireIT headband and a SmarTrip card holder. They also received a tablet donated by Google to take home.
DCHA applied and became an NCWIT program partner this year in order to foster interest in technology careers among young girls as part of the city’s dcConnectHome initiative. The event was held at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center.
The District of Columbia is one of 28 communities nationwide selected by HUD to participate in ConnectHome, a federal initiative that aims to increase access and technology education for U.S. Housing and Urban Development-served families. The local program, dcConnectHome, uses a holistic approach based on the belief that effective, sustainable digital inclusion includes the entire family. D.C.’s approach casts a wide net that includes in-home/community space Wi-Fi connectivity, early childhood education content, college preparation, workforce development, and STEM educational opportunities for youth.
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