When it comes to getting youth interested in the tech industry, parents and educators have a lot of questions to field about how to best move forward. Do you urge your kid to build a computer? Do you go for the multi-thousand-dollar bootcamps or are there cost-friendly options? How might they land an internship or apprenticeship as a teenager?
But have no fear, it turns out there’s plenty of options in the DMV for tech-inclined teens (over 15, to be specific). Whether it’s taking initiative in the classroom, after school hours or on summer breaks, DC has a wealth of offerings for youth interested in the STEM fields or thinking about a career in coding.
Find out below who’s making waves and preparing kids for a future in technology:
The DC chapter of BDPA, formerly known as Black Data Processing Associates, has a multitude of programming for its student members. As part of its Student Information Technology Education and Scholarship program, students can take part in web development, game development and multimedia tracks as well as attend BDPA-hosted events, including awards and competitions.
BPDA shared a few more of its activities in recent years with us, which includes three national coding championships (and the most regional coding titles since 1986) as well as youth tech awards. Plus, its student members can win scholarships or PCs for white papers and posters.
Having a partnership with the Consumer Technology Association under its belt, the national after-school club has plenty of tech offerings for kids and teens. Members can learn about STEM fields as well as energy and urban infrastructure. Plus, Comcast tricked out its Benning Road NE digital lab a few years ago with a $100,000 makeover as part of a five-year digital literacy campaign.
This national program hosts programming for young Black girls in AI, robotics, virtual reality, app and web design, blockchain and 3D printing. Its DC chapter has been running strong since 2015, introducing over 600 girls annually to coding and STEM programs, according to BGC. Plus, tune in Sept. 18 for a 101 class on Python 1 for DMV girls aged 13-17.
Founded by IT professional and DC native Tennisha Martin, Black Girls Hack offers resources, workshops and training programs in cybersecurity. Plus, it facilitates a mentorship program to connect aspiring cybersecurity professionals to representatives working in the field.
With its IRL museum located at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia, kids can learn about and try out all different aspects of science and technology in its exhibits. But it also hosts events, camps and programming for schools, preschools and virtual and in-person offerings for families and students (you can also check out the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore).
Part of DC’s CityBridge program, CityWorks offers a three-year, paid apprenticeship program in information technology, business operations and financial services, in partnership with local tech companies. In its second year, the organization has expanded to provide placements for 45 DMV high school students.
In addition to its software offerings, H Street web design firm Clearly Innovative hosts education programs for adults and kids. Schools can take part in an education curriculum that teaches the basics of development, entrepreneurship and design via after-school programs and summer camps for students of all ages. Dedicated younger adults can also sign up for its “deep dive” programming in startup principles, user experience, software development and product management.
The Northwest DC company has over 50 course offerings in web and mobile app development; computer, coding and tech training plus six-week bootcamps for teens and adults. Students can register to take classes online or take part in one of HSTS’s local partnerships with entities including DC’s HashFlow, Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools and The Linux Foundation, among others. It also has scholarships for its courses ranging from a 25% discount to tuition-free, and it’s hoping to add additional partnerships in the coming months.
In 2020, GSNC added four new badges in science and technology. Girls can now earn a badge in entrepreneurship, STEM Career exploration, automotive engineering and civics.
Designed to close the gender gap in tech, Girls Who Code has a huge presence in DC to help women and girls interested in breaking into the industry. The national nonprofit has 19 locations in the DMV-area, plus free at-home options, with lessons in CSS, HTML and Python.
A nonprofit that’s dedicated to encouraging students to tackle social change, LearnServe has a multitude of offerings for using entrepreneurship methods and innovation to ease social issues. Available to middle and high school students in the DMV, interested teens can take part in a fellowship program, incubator, a study abroad trip and an in-school curriculum for educators.
The Dulles, Virigina-based organization partners with local schools for tech training, specifically IT and cybersecurity offerings to prepare students for the workforce. With an overall goal of adding 100,000 young Black and Brown technologists to the workforce by 2030, it plans to add another 10,000 members nationwide by the end of 2021.
Founder Gerald Moore Sr. hopes the program will help equip students with skills to make sure they can achieve the careers they’re aspiring for.
“How many millions of children come through school and their counselors are telling them they can’t because you haven’t taken precalculus and physics and chemistry by the time you graduate?” Moore told Technical.ly in June. “So many of us don’t believe that we have the opportunity to do it…We’re going to dispel that myth.”
This annual event is designed to help generate an interest in STEM for kids of all ages and backgrounds. This year’s event is coming October 15-November 14, with a particular focus on creating pathways to jobs.
Since its beginnings in 2013, On-Ramps to Careers has worked with local high school students to provide internship opportunities with local tech companies. The six-week summer program, which provided 200 paid internships to Black students in 2020, also offers on-site check-ins and additional training in the field. Currently, it offers internships options (as well as resume-building and interview preparation) in networking and hardware, digital media, computer programming, cybersecurity and web design.
Now in its 25th year of operation, the Patriots Center has virtual offerings for DMV students from grades 5-12, including workshops and competitions. For $30 per year, students can choose from career offerings and learning opportunities in aerospace, engineering, cybersecurity, software and more.
National nonprofit Per Scholas offers career support, financial services, networking and general resource offerings for those looking for a career in tech. At its Silver Spring, Maryland location, it offers free training programs and certifications in IT Support, cybersecurity and Amazon Web Services’ re/Start, with both in-person and remote options.
With its roots at home, ProjectCSGirls offers instruction for middle school girls in tech and social good. The national nonprofit hosts its headquarters in DC, with high school and college students leading chapters locally. If your kid is just getting into the tech game, ProjectCS has introductory workshops plus a national competition each year for students to apply what they’ve learned.
This program from the Greater Washington Partnership’s Capital CoLab is aimed at closing a skills gap for employers in the region that spans D.C., Baltimore and Richmond, with a focus on growing the number of women and BIPOC professionals in tech. To get there, it’s working with educators, local government and employers across those regions to advance digital and tech skills in schools, and tailor a curriculum to what companies want their future employees to be able to do. As part of its work with college students, it recently rolled out a $5 million scholarship program for digital tech credentials to support this work, with the goal of supporting 2,000 students by 2025.
Annandale, Virginia’s TIC camp hosts two-week programs every summer for local students. Campers can choose between tracks in computer programming, digital art and graphic design, animation, plus the tech side of filmmaking, music and photography. In the past, it also offered programs in circuitry and robotics.
In the future leaders aim to include programs that let kids build their own computers, work with drones and incorporate Minecraft modding.
“The beautiful thing about our courses is that we actually tailor the project to each kid based on their interests…” director of operations Daniel Morais told Technical.ly. “That ability to be in the driver’s seat ultimately offers passion and helps drive their success.”