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 .

Crystal's story

Crystal started Code the Dream a little under a year ago, and we're so glad she did. Take two minutes to hear about her experience.

Posted on December 27, 2017 .

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

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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. 

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Posted on September 18, 2017 .