Opening Up Options for Pedestrians at NC Open Pass Datapalooza

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NC Open Pass is a group that holds open data events with the goal of creating 'civic tech'.  In September, they held their yearly Civic Camp event, where attendees could pitch ideas for civic-minded apps that used open data.

I pitched an idea but my team didn't win the final presentation. However, the team that won, NC Clear Path, had an idea similar to ours. The judges encouraged us to work together and the NC Clear Path team was all for it. My idea was an app that shows the accessibility of rest stops and restaurants for travelers with mobility difficulties and encourages users to add details.  NC Clear Path had a similar concept but for pedestrians. Their app would use sidewalk data to plan the safest, most practical route for those with mobility difficulties. It would consider elevation, broken sidewalks, curb cuts and the like.

We joined forces to come up with a pitch for All Things Open (a big open data convention full of great workshops). This pitch was a refined version of the NC Open Pass pitch. With our pitch, we painted a clear picture of how our app would meet certain needs and how we would accomplish our goals. After presenting our pitch at All Things Open, we were selected as finalists for Datapalooza.

Datapalooza was intimidating because the other two teams had finished creating their apps and they had gathered user feedback.  We had figured out how to get sidewalk data through mapathons and built the basic parts of our app, but we were still having some integration issues. However, in our presentation, we highlighted the open data we used more than the other teams highlighted theirs. I think this helped us win the finals. We won 12 months of co-working space and $5000. I was in shock but I was also very grateful that other people believed in the app as much as I did.

I grew up with people who have mobility issues. I don’t think those issues should stop them from getting where they need to go. Turns out, the judges felt that way too.

Posted on November 14, 2018 .

CTD at All Things Open

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Last month, many of the Code the Dream interns attended the All Things Open Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center.  All Things Open is the largest open technology event on the East Coast with over 3,500 attendees. Over the course of the 3-day conference, there were more than 200 sessions. These sessions discussed a range of topics that related to Functional Light JavaScript,  Application Servers, C# test-driven development, Querying NoSQL with SQL, User Experience (UX),  and Visual Validation for Mobile Applications. With these sessions, our interns were able to learn about some of the emerging challenges that are facing coders and how open source technologies can help.

Crystal Williams-Brown raved about the Vue workshop. At first, she was nervous about building something in a framework that she had never used before. However, the Vue Vixens instructors were very encouraging and provided great instructions and handy tools.  Another intern, Romina, enjoyed being surrounded by other people that were passionate about coding and building apps and was surprised by the diversity she found. Many of our developers also got a lot out of the Blockchain session. In between going to the different sessions and meeting other developers from across the region, the team also took a moment to step into the All Things Open photo booth. The Code the Dream team had a great time attending All Things Open as can be seen with the photo above!

Posted on November 12, 2018 .

‘Call for Code’ Addresses Disaster Preparedness and Relief Efforts

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Last week, Code the Dream interns attended the 2018 Call for Code Global Challenge at IBM in RTP. Call for Code is a multi-year global initiative for developers to use their skills to drive positive change across the world through the code they create. The Call for Code Global Challenge started with 30 teams. IBM and Governor Roy Cooper picked six teams out of the 30 that could help with natural disaster relief efforts. At the Call for Code event, these six teams presented their projects to an audience of IBM employees and nonprofit partners, including Code the Dream. The winners will be announced at the Call for Code Global Prize Celebration on October 29th at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

The 2018 Call for Code Global Challenge is the first event run by the Call for Code Global Initiative and this year the theme was Natural Disaster Preparedness and Relief. This year, developers are challenged to “build solutions that significantly improve the current state of natural disaster preparedness in order to reduce the disruptive impact on human lives, health, and wellbeing.”

Source: https://callforcode.org/faq/

Posted on October 23, 2018 .

CTD hits the evening news!

Code the Dream opens doors, launches careers

By Mandy Mitchell, WRAL reporter & Hannah Webster, WRAL.com editor

DURHAM, N.C. — A Durham startup is making dreams come true for adults and high school students who want to work in technology.

Code the Dream provides free classes for people who are traditionally under-represented in the technology and computer science industries.

Coding was never the kind of work Daisy Magnus-Aryitey imagined herself doing.

"Three years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom," she said.

She said she never considered herself to be “good” with computers, but she now has a successful career as a computer programmer.

"I know that my life changed,” Magnus-Aryitey said. “My family's life changed, just to be able to get into this space and to be able to get into something that I never saw myself doing."

Her life changed thanks to an organization called Code the Dream, a program that gives people from under-represented populations an entry point into the tech industry.

Magnus-Aryitey, who is originally from Ghana, is now the director. "Our students are usually first-generation Americans, recent immigrants, minorities, women or people from low-income backgrounds," she said.

Most people involved in the program had never seen a line of code before their first class.

Students quickly learn the basics, and within a year, the best students are building their own apps, usually for non-profits in the Triangle.

"It means the world. Just to have access to the space. Access to the resources, the instructors and getting your foot in the door," student Manuel Ramos Gonzalez said.

They are then able to get jobs in technology and coding, industries with increasingly high demands.

“The best part is watching students progress and remembering where they were just a few months ago,” Executive Director Dan Rearick said.

Crystal Williams-Brown was working in a grocery store before she learned about Code the Dream.

She always had an interest in technology but didn't think she could pursue a career in the industry.

"I would love if it could inspire someone who has brushed it off and said that's not for me if someone would just see and hear me and just give it a shot," Williams-Brown said.

Code the Dream classes, for high school students and young adults, are available year-round.

"Now with our classes they come in and say oh I am not the only immigrant. I am not the only person of color I am not the only one in this environment,” Magnus-Aryitey said. “That is what makes code the dream so special."

Posted on June 4, 2018 .

Ribbon of Hope grant supports CTD rural expansion

At Code the Dream, we're always interested to find ways to expand opportunity to those who may have less access. So we were excited to learn recently that we received a Ribbon of Hope grant from the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to do just that -- specifically supporting expanded access to Code the Dream to young people in rural Johnston and Sampson counties. We are very grateful to the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation for their support, and look forward to developing talent in an area where many fail to look. We hope to soon be able to replicate this model more broadly and continue moving towards more equitable access to opportunity for all.

Posted on May 7, 2018 .

Welcome Cruz

Cruz Nuñez is now officially our second Code the Dream alumni to come back as program staff. Cruz is an incredibly talented software developer and will take the lead on some of Code the Dream's app development projects for nonprofits and small businesses. Cruz is also a gifted and patient mentor, and we're very glad to have him helping newer Code the Dreamers get their start.

Posted on May 2, 2018 .

Congrats Jafet, and thank you!

We recently got a nice, unexpected email from one of our recent Code the Dream grads, Jafet, who last year earned a full scholarship to college:

"Code the Dream provided me with the foundation that is helping me shape my future. The skills I learned through the classes and the multiple phases of the program have allowed me to be very successful in my college career so far. I was the only student in my scholarship cohort of 106 students to obtain a perfect 4.0 GPA for the first semester and I am on track to keep it for my second semester... It's an awesome program and I loved every second of it."

Thank you Jafet! It's wonderful to see all your hard work paying off.

Posted on April 16, 2018 .

Ruben Goes to Silicon Valley

Code the Dream grad Ruben Cruz recently accepted a job with Silicon Valley startup Next Request... but fortunately for him he'll only have to head to the Bay Area for occasional meetings. He's one of their first software developer hires near his home in Durham, NC, so he'll still be close by and able to stay involved and help mentor new Code the Dream students.

We're excited for Ruben and wish him all the best. He recently took a couple minutes to sit down with Outreach Coordinator Jocelyn Casanova and share a little about his experience with Code the Dream and how it helped him land his first software developer position.

Posted on March 30, 2018 .

Code the Dream's Newest Cohort

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After a series of information sessions and a record number of interviews held, Code the Dream’s most diverse cohort yet has been selected:

  • The cohort is split nearly 50 / 50 men and women.
  • Our high school applicants came to us from over a dozen schools across the region.
  • Students range in age from 14 - 59.
  • Students from immigrant families have roots in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria, among other places.

Code the Dream students are hopeful to be the first in their families to attend college or to start their own business. They come from diverse backgrounds, including immigrant families and families trying to get back on their feet. They are hard workers who seek to give back to their communities in a greater way. Every student has unique story that we want to hear more of. As their cohort progresses, our hope is to be able to share bits of their stories with you every couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Posted on February 20, 2018 .

More Applicants Than Ever Before!

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It's been a busy time for Code the Dream as we prepare for next set of introductory courses! We’ve had more applications than ever before – a record-breaking 170 applicants

For our team, that's both exciting and daunting, as we realize we don't have the resources to serve that many students. We've already learned a lot about them through their applications, and now we look forward to meeting them through the interview process.

Posted on January 16, 2018 .