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The dcConnectHome digital inclusion initiative kicked off its Girls’ Coding Club on October 21 at the Southwest Family Enhancement and Career Center. 

A part of dcConnectHome , the club is an extension of the AspireIT two-day summer computer coding camps held in 2016 and 2017. AspireIT is a program that connects high school and college-aged young women with girls in grades K-12 to cultivate an interest in technology. dcConnectHome’s club engages middle and high school-aged girls from the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs.  The eight-month program is designed to provide an ongoing technology experience for girls that teaches them everything from creating web-sites to programming apps, while providing opportunities to explore careers in technology.

“What kind of jobs are tech jobs?” asked Neha Damaraju, a program leader for the club and a junior at Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School. “Almost 50 percent of jobs are now tech jobs,” she said to the younger girls, listing surgical doctors, graphic designers, and robotics as jobs that use technology.

The AspireIT 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 participants through their computing education and development. DCHA applied and became an NCWIT program partner in 2016 as part of the dcConnectHome initiative. “The goal of NCWIT is to empower young women to find something interesting they’d like to do in computer science,” Damaraju said.

The club plans to meet every third Saturday of the month. In their inaugural club meeting, girls put together their own Kano computers and began learning the basics of coding with help from EveryoneOn, a non-profit leading the national ConnectHome initiative to bridge the digital divide by making sure HUD-assisted families have access to low-cost, high-speed Internet access and the knowledge to use it. Kano is a London-based technology company that has created the first do-it-yourself computer kit designed to help people of all ages assemble a computer from scratch, and learn basic coding skills. 

“EveryoneOn wants to continue and build up, keep the progress going with the students,” said Amber Petty, EveryoneOn’s senior manager of National Programs. “We want to see this type of thing happening.”

Damaraju said that next month the girls will begin learning HTML and will start building their own websites. Along with the help of Advika Jhingran and Maria Izzi, both freshmen at Thomas Jefferson High School, the girls will build more and more onto their websites each club meeting.

dcConnectHome is led by the Office of the Mayor and DCHA, and is one of 28 communities nationwide selected in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to participate in ConnectHome. Partnerships are the key to dcConnectHome’s success—national partnerships established by HUD ConnectHome, like the one with NCWIT’s AspireIT program, have been instrumental in providing technology based opportunities for DCHA residents. 

In addition, the dedicated collaboration between the local government and DCHA resulted in successfully providing high speed internet Wi-Fi access to 1,785 households throughout DCHA’s portfolio. Nearly 760 school-age children live within those 1,785 households.

If you would like to remain informed on future dcConnectHome Girls’ Coding Club activities or want to learn more about the dcConnectHome initiative, please email dcConnecthome@dchousing.org to be added to the mailing list.

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Last modified: 11/3/2017 1:13:14 PM