CULTIVATING CODERS LAUNCHES ITS FIRST OKC COMPUTER CODING CAMP

Via Velocity OKC

Through a partnership with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, a New Mexico-based computer science nonprofit organization is launching its first Oklahoma City-based camp.

Cultivating Coders is partnering with Millwood Public Schools and Metro Tech Academy’s Springlake campus to offer its free eight-week all-virtual training camp to 20 students, ranging in age from 15 to 18 years old. The camp starts on July 6.

The organization sets itself apart from others teaching coding by bringing its classes to the students, even if the student is living in a rural area or on a tribal reservation.

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President and CEO Roy Williams said he’s excited that the organization is coming to the city. The Chamber has been working with Cultivating Coders for a year.

“Cultivating Coders has a great history of working with rural and tribal communities, so when they expressed interest in bringing their program to the center of a major city, we were thrilled to be the first place,” said Williams. “Through this camp, these young people will learn about an opportunity that will set them on a prosperous path in a flourishing career field. We know technology-related jobs are in high demand, so this partnership is a great step forward for the city’s future economic opportunities.”

Cultivating Coders President and Founder Charles Ashley said he’s enjoyed getting to know Oklahoma City and the Chamber over the last year. He said he’s hoping to grow the program here, not only with school districts, but with companies as well.

“I see this inaugural coding camp as just one important step toward a continuing, collaborative effort with the great people of Oklahoma City,” said Ashley. “Furthermore, we're looking forward to connecting with additional companies, schools, and school districts in the state that are willing to step up and join us in our effort to expose young people to a quality computer science education." 

This camp could be the start of a career path that’s filled with opportunities for the students. Software developer positions are expected to increase 21% by 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. There are 500,000 jobs open for computing right now, representing the No. 1 source of new wages in the U.S. These jobs are projected to grow at twice the rate of all other jobs, according to Code.org.

Millwood Public Schools Superintendent Cecilia Robinson-Woods said she appreciates the Chamber partnering with Cultivating Coders to make this opportunity possible for her students. She said this experience will show them a career that they likely didn’t know was available.

“One of the things that I say is that if kids can’t see it, then they can’t be it,” she said. “If you’ve never seen a minority engineer or a Black game designer, and you don’t know there are people of color in that space, then you don’t know that’s an opportunity for you. You also don’t know what it takes to get to that level. Showing the students this career path through Cultivating Coders will let them see that it’s within their reach to become successful in this field.”

For the camp, students are given a laptop to participate in the program, where they’ll learn web application development fundamentals and technical training. These skills are highly sought by Cultivating Coders’ partnering companies that include Microsoft, AT&T, Facebook and Pixegon.

Rural Sourcing, Inc., an Atlanta-based company with a development center in Oklahoma City, is an active partner of Cultivating Coders in other markets. Rural Sourcing played a key role in helping to launch the Oklahoma City camp and plans to serve as a hiring partner for graduates of the program.

Rural Sourcing CEO Monty Hamilton said the company is pleased to see Cultivating Coders come to OKC.

“Over the past few years, we have worked with Charles Ashley and Cultivating Coders to bring technology careers to underserved communities in the Albuquerque market,” said Hamilton. “Together, we have made an impact on many young people who would otherwise not have been exposed to the possibility of a technology career. This is an exciting opportunity for Oklahoma City to help provide the next generation of software developers and entrepreneurs with the skills for a successful career in technology. With a continued commitment to technology education, Oklahoma City can blossom into a true tech hub.”