RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Crystal Williams-Brown is the poster child for ‘Code the Dream’.
The college graduate couldn’t find work in her first chosen field and decided she really wanted to be a computer programmer.
“As I was looking around at a lot of those schools it was very expensive to go and I wasn’t working at the time so I didn’t have a way to afford it,” she told ABC11.
Then she heard about a program in Research Triangle Park.
“They suggested Code the Dream because it was free. I’m like, ‘Well, that’s exactly what I can afford,'” she said.
Soon she joined the ranks of those learning to write computer code.
“There are so many reasons why people may not be able to get ahead especially if that requires a computer science degree. So we wanted to make sure that people from all different backgrounds really had a chance to have a successful career,” said Dan Rearick one of the founders of Code the Dream.
Ten years ago, the graduate of Apex High School, UNC-CH, and Harvard Law School decided to give up corporate trappings and start a nonprofit to help mostly people in need.
He explained how the program meets that goal saying, “Code the Dream is open to everybody but we do have a thumb on the scale in favor of people from low-income backgrounds. It’s a free program so when we can we want to make sure we help those who have no other options.”
Once people learn to program they practice in labs and actually create apps.
And that’s where this nonprofit pays it forward to other nonprofits.
If there’s a nonprofit that can’t afford an app, they come to Code the Dream to get it done.
Williams-Brown is one of the graduates who ended up going to work for Code the Dream and is now helping others who serve the community.
Her first assignment was helping Families Together, a nonprofit agency in Raleigh that helps recently homeless families find services.
It needed an app to connect people with free rides to job interviews; something Williams-Brown could have used herself.
It was as rewarding as a job can get.
“I was also very proud because one of my issues with getting employment is I didn’t have transportation and I didn’t have a way to pay for transportation. So then there were a lot of jobs that weren’t available to me,” she said.
Space at Code the Dream is limited.
The last class for 30 people had 200 applicants.
If you’d like to help provide services to more people like Williams-Brown your donation would be appreciated.