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 .

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 .

Students Find Their Niche in Advanced Course

January marked the beginning of Code the Dream's Advanced Course in Durham. As students transition from basic programing to more in depth app development technologies, it's been inspiring to watch them also develop a keener sense that this could be a real future.

As Cait recently said, "CTD has been an awesome experience. Ever since beginning the course in October, I find myself looking at web apps and wondering who built them and what languages they used. I try to deconstruct things like user logins and think how I would tackle that part of a project."

Avi, who is still in high school, said he now plans to study computer science in college, and one day "start up my own business using the skills I have learned." Cait agreed that she was looking forward to "following a new career path that allows me to utilize these new skills.... I can't wait to see what's around the next corner!"

We can't wait to see it either.

Posted on March 8, 2017 .

Welcoming new students in Raleigh

Today was the first day of class for our new Beginner Course. We're excited to have a dozen new students honing their coding skills at the The Iron Yard's campus in downtown Raleigh, and look forward to seeing what you will accomplish.

Posted on January 14, 2017 .

The American Dream for all of us

       America is going through many changes and amongst those, the tech industry is one. A recent survey showed that the tech industry in the U.S. and Silicon Valley have a huge diversity gap. The lack of diversity is becoming a cultural issue as well as a missed opportunity for those who do not have the resources.

Code the Dream  encourages youth immigrants, minorities,  and refugees to dream the unthinkable. This program aims to make resources available to those who do not have the access to them, especially in the tech industry.

Can you imagine if more people had the chance to learn to code?

Posted on December 16, 2016 .