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Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Microsoft Deliver STEM Access

20-Year Partnership Provides a Bridge to Opportunities for Youth

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Digital skills and exposure to STEM activities like computer science and coding are critical to both academic success and social emotional development in today’s tech-driven world.

A recent survey among our members revealed that 79% of kids want to learn about coding and 55% of girls want to be computer programmers. This strong interest is important because jobs in computing are the largest and fastest-growing section of new wages but even more important, nearly every future career will rely on digital skills.1 Computer science is critical from how we interact with others to how we do our jobs.

For 20 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Microsoft have partnered to help transform lives at over 1,200 Clubs, providing access to digital skills and STEM programming to over 95,000 Club kids.  Most recently, we partnered with Microsoft to bring inclusive computer science education and programming to Club kids through the Computer Science Pathway, a series of programs that meet Club youth and staff at respective levels of ability, from coding basics to app development. Through this work we have seen changing perceptions among Club youth, increasing participation of girls, and inspiring more kids to pursue computer science education and career opportunities!

According to Code.org, only 35% of U.S. high schools teach computer science. Kids are not being exposed to these essential skills at school or home, causing those most vulnerable to be at risk of being left behind in this digital economy.  

After-school computer science at Clubs and STEM programming like the Computer Science Pathway provides kids with a safe, supportive place where they can get creative, fail without judgment, and persevere. Such project-based learning environments offer activities that relate to real-world experiences and career exploration, allowing us to help close the digital skills gap.

In 2017, through the Microsoft partnership, Divya started coding at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County in New York inspiring her to want to become an engineer. Divya participated in the Computer Science Pathway and created Ticket to Safe Haven, a computer game aimed at raising awareness about the refugee crisis in Syria. Her game lead her and a team of four teen girls to earn the “Best Overall” award in a national competition hosted at the Facebook headquarters in California.

“These girls were absolutely amazing,” said Janet Wallach, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County Director of Program Development. “They worked incredibly well as a team, exhibiting grace, humility, and perseverance.”

1 https://medium.com/@codeorg/us-dept-of-education-prioritizes-computer-science-funding-64d47807d1dc

 

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