The Geek Foundation is cultivating the next generation of innovators, one that will be more diverse than the generation that precedes it. By partnering with local organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and the Missouri Career Center, we are also able to focus on giving low-income youth the impetus they need to end the cycle of poverty.
Many people assume that you have to be a child genius or a stay-up-all-night introvert to be a good programmer. The Geek Foundation is trying to expand the image of a “geek” to include anyone who has a passion for computer science, regardless of race, gender or any other broad classification. We hope to encourage more people to give it a shot and hope they fall in love with it. The choice to start a career in tech empowers a person to make a real impact in this world and make a nice living to boot. We want to be the impetus that sparks a new (and different) set of innovators to make that choice.
Our board is run by volunteers, but we are raising money to help fund future programs and cover administrative costs. By donating, you can help us pave the way to gender parity in the Ozarks technology community!
What We're Working On Now
In collaboration with our great parters at the Boys & Girls Club, we kickstarted a Girls Who Code club for 3rd through 5th grade girls at the Sertoma unit. We are working with their tech lab coordinator to facilitate the weekly program. Together, five to 10 girls make their way through the GWC book and complete the associated Scratch programming lesson that demonstrates Computer Science (CS) concepts through drag-and-drop coding. Our president, Maranda, has served as a role model each week, adding valuable context to the lesson plans with real-world tech experience.
In addition to the clubs, our board members members actively participate in CS events at local schools, from helping start the annual high school girls CS events in Springfield and Bolivar to facilitating a special girls coding session at the annual CSI Springfield event for middle schoolers. These programs are already making an impact. The number of girls taking CS classes at Bolivar High School was up 7 percent over last year.
What We're Working On Next
Now that the Girls Who Code curriculum has been tested, we are planning to expand to other age groups at the other three Boys & Girls Club units in the spring 2019 semester. We are also working to get the word out to administrators at schools in Springfield and the surrounding areas to let them know we are willing to help any interested teacher or parent start their own Girls Who Code clubs.
In October of 2018, we embarked on a new partnership with the Cody Naeger at the Missouri Career Center to facilitate technical training for their new Aspire to Innovate program for at-risk youth. The program will focus on a diverse population of young adults between the ages of 14–24 to establish long-term career goals and focus on the actionable steps necessary to achieve those goals, including training in both soft skills and technical skills. We are aiming to get this program off the ground in spring 2019.