Welcome Daisy!

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We are very excited to welcome the newest member of our team -- Daisy Magnus-Aryitey, who began last week as our new Program Director. 

Daisy was one of our first Code the Dream students before spending the last two years as a software developer for Duke University. She came to the U.S. from Ghana when she was 4 years-old, and experienced first-hand both the joys and struggles faced by many newcomers. We are grateful she has decided to come to back to share her experience and help open doors for future Code the Dream students. 

Posted on October 30, 2017 .

Students demo new apps in Raleigh


For many Code the Dream students, the last step before they start getting paid to develop real apps is to take one of their own ideas and turn it into a fully functioning app. It's a big step requiring a lot of work, but on Saturday Crystal, Narayan, Rondale and Cristian were ready to demonstrate what they had created. Each of the the apps -- tentatively known as Bookish, Rating System, Just Married and Mini Facebook -- included features of widely used apps already on the market, but always with a twist. We look forward to seeing what these students will build in the coming months as they jump into their first real projects. 

Posted on September 18, 2017 .

CTD grad goes from struggling with English to working as a programmer at Duke University

When Fernando thinks back to his first days in the United States they weren't easy. "I cried in the classroom because everyone was speaking English and I didn't understand what they were saying," he remembers.

Fernando is originally from Honduras, and as a child he didn't have much access to computers. But he was always interested, from the time he first saw one in an internet cafe. 

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When Fernando's family came to the United States, they settled in Johnston County. And there the opportunities were still limited, but Fernando pushed on and completed an associates degree at Johnston Community College. He still hadn't given up his dream of learning to code.

Two years ago, Fernando got an email about Code the Dream. He didn't think twice. He took the 12 week beginner course; then moved on to the intermediate course; and finally advance to making a much needed app for the nonprofit Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF).

Together with fellow CTD grad Jorge Rodriguez, Fernando developed an app called ConectateCarolina.org to help migrant farmworkers find education, health and other resources nearby. For 10 months he worked hard on this app, taking into account feedback from SAF as well as from some of the farmworkers who now use the app.

Fernando believes learning to code has widened his interest in learning new things. He also believes it has made him more persistent. "For example, when I want to learn something new, coding has taught me to keep on pushing and finish what I want to learn."  

This month Fernando is taking those skills and persistence to a new job as a software developer at Duke University. We are all proud of all the hard work Fernando has put in and all he has achieved as he embarks on his new career.   

Posted on August 16, 2017 .

N&O: Code the Dream helps immigrant and refugee communities give back and diversify tech world

Fernando Osorto, left, and Jorge Rodriguez discuss an app they developed for Student Action with Farmworkers through the Code the Dream project sponsored by Uniting NC. Osorto and Rodriguez spoke at Code the Dream classes on July 29, 2017, at the American Underground in Durham, NC.

Fernando Osorto, left, and Jorge Rodriguez discuss an app they developed for Student Action with Farmworkers through the Code the Dream project sponsored by Uniting NC. Osorto and Rodriguez spoke at Code the Dream classes on July 29, 2017, at the American Underground in Durham, NC.

Originally published July 29, 2017 in the News & Observer.

Anne Blythe ablythe@newsobserver.com

With laptops open, rapt students watched as lines of code stretched across their screens. They were gathered in the American Underground, a startup incubator, to take part in classes organized through Code the Dream, a program set up to steer people from immigrant, refugee and minority communities into computer programming jobs and tech careers.

Cruz Nunez, a graduate of the program, did a presentation on an app he has been creating for a Raleigh businessman that has the potential to transform business management for private trash haulers across the country.

“I like coding because I like solving problems and I like making web pages look good,” Nunez told the new coders.

The classes are being offered through Uniting NC and the American Underground at a time when the tech industry is being criticized for its lack of diversity.

According to a 2014 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, black workers account for only 7 percent of the industry’s jobs, Hispanics hold about 8 percent, and women — nearly 47 percent of the overall workforce — make up only 36 percent of the high-tech workforce.

Ramiro Rodriguez, a Raleigh resident who came to the United States as a child from Mexico, is a founder and lead teacher at Code the Dream. Many immigrants and refugees who might lack the financial resources to pay for their education or support their families have benefited from his willingness to share his experiences and knowledge from working in the tech industry.

Cynthia Rios, a 16-year-old Garner High School student who became the youngest person accepted into program after applying at 14 years old, worked with Ruben Cruz, a 23-year-old Durham resident, to set up a computer site for the Kidznotes music program. 

“I always wanted to find a way to program,” said Cruz, who was tipped off about the program while taking classes at Durham Technical Community College. “It’s really cool here. We have our mentors and we can talk to them about our ideas”

Daisy Howarth, a Ghanaian who came to the United States as a child, was a stay-at-home mom before she found Code the Dream. From those classes she received even more intensive training at the Iron Yard, a coding school that surprised many with its recent announcement that campuses in Raleigh and Durham were closing.

Howarth, though, has been able to turn her experience into a job at a university in the area, and she has helped others from Code the Dream climb the industry ladder with her.

Fernando Osorto, 22, who came to this country from Honduras 12 years ago, is one of those people and was applauded on Saturday for landing a job with Howarth.

Osorto did not immediately set out to be a coder. After high school, he worked for a year as a framer before deciding he wanted to try something different.

After taking Code the Dream classes, Osorto worked with Jorge Rodriguez, who always has had a love for technology, on a project for the Student Action with Farmworkers.

The idea was to create a portal to help farmworkers, who are often immigrant laborers, find services they need in North Carolina. The site, which offers guidance in Spanish and English, helps farmworkers and their families find health care close to them, education opportunities, legal and immigration assistance, government agencies, housing and job information.

The two also are thinking about other kinds of apps they might try to create.

Rodriguez said his friends were thrilled with a Pinterest-style clone he made in several weeks.

“Coding was a little scary for me at the beginning,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve always been involved in technology. But for me, coming from Spanish and learning English, it’s like I know English, and now I’ve got to learn another language. ...Now I want to make apps that help the world, that help all people.”


Posted on August 1, 2017 .

Students share their experiences at the Mexican Consulate education fair

On Saturday, the Mexican Consulate in Raleigh invited Code the Dream to present at its first ever 'education opportunity fair'. Students shared their experience with Code the Dream and explained a bit of what they had learned. Around 100 people came to their booth seeking for more information about possibly starting a career in tech. Students  were also interviewed by the Spanish-language newspaper, Que Pasa. 

CTD students really enjoyed talking to other peers who were in their same situation before they got started with Code the Dream. They're happy to be seen as an example and to provide any help they can. 

Posted on July 10, 2017 .

New beginner class in Durham

Do you know somebody who has always wanted to learn to code? Maybe they've always been really skilled or interested in all things tech, but they've never gotten a chance to learn how things work? Whether they're still in high school or community college or out in the work world and college wasn't an option for them, tell them to check us out.

Apply here for our intro July - August course at the American Underground in Durham. Online applications will be accepted through June 22.

Our goal is to make sure everyone truly as an equal shot at opportunity. Help us spread the word.


Posted on June 1, 2017 .

Code the Dream receives Power of Sharing award


The annual Power of Sharing awards gala was established to recognize the tremendous impact local nonprofits are making throughout our community. This year Code the Dream was honored to be invited and selected as the runner-up in the Education category, a wonderful recognition for our work. We are also grateful for the $5,000 award, which will allow us to provide an opportunity for more diverse students to hone their talents, gain experience while building apps that benefit our community and eventually achieve their goals of meaningful careers.

The Power of Sharing is hosted by the Coastal Credit Union Foundation and made possible by an impressive collaborative effort from AT&T, BASF, BCBSNC, Capitol Broadcasting, Citrix, Lenovo, Duke Energy, IBM and the Triangle Business Journal. The event was a unique opportunity to come together with other nonprofits that serve low-income families across central North Carolina and be inspired by their work. Also, it isn’t often that we get to attend a ‘gala’,  so that was fun too. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible!

Posted on May 22, 2017 .

Meet Jafet: Recent CTD grad and soon to be college freshman

Jafet is a senior just a few days away from graduating from high school. In this episode, Jafet talks about coming from a small town in Mexico when he was seven years old, going to school and serving in ROTC, and getting the chance to learn computer programing through Code the Dream. He recently got a full scholarship, allowing him to start college in the fall.

Posted on May 9, 2017 .

CTD students prep for the real world.

Getting the call for a job interview is an amazing feeling but also nerve racking. An interview can make or break you by determining if you get the job or don't. Nothing is more frustrating than failing an interview because you weren't prepared for the question they asked. 

Yesterday Code the Dream students and recent grads got a great chance to practice with mock interviews. The interviews were hosted by a generous team of experienced tech gurus at Credit Suisse's Research Triangle Park offices. Students had the opportunity to go through two rounds of interviews as well as get tips and feedback on their resumes. 

It was a great experience, and students left feeling a little less nervous about how they would fair when it came time for the real thing. 

Posted on May 5, 2017 .

Recognizing a Mentor Who Has Gone Above and Beyond

This afternoon Jared Siirila was recognized during the 44th Annual Key Volunteer of the Year & Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards Luncheon for volunteering with Code the Dream.

Jared has served as an instructor for multiple Code the Dream classes, giving diverse low-income students the opportunity to take their first steps toward a successful career in technology. He also served as a mentor, guiding students through coding their first real apps for local nonprofits serving our community. Going above and beyond, he originally volunteered to assist 2 hours per day, 3 times a week with one 8-week class but has instead remained involved with nearly nonstop classes for the last 18 months.

This has allowed Code the Dream to grow and provide opportunities to more students than we could have without him. Although the technology sector is booming, that boom is leaving out many, especially low-income black and Latino youth. Jared is a great example of how people within the established technology sector can share their experience and help students make the leap all the way from low-wage jobs to developing their own apps and eventually building a fulfilling, innovative career.

Posted on April 25, 2017 .