Diversity & Inclusion
Coding / Education / STEM / Youth

Coderrific Academy classes are now part of Wilmington’s HeArt Under the Hoodie program

The Christina Cultural Arts Center's after-school program focuses on at-risk youth. A Wednesday afternoon class was full of kids aged 7 to 15 ready to learn how to create a web page.

Coderrific instructor Noah Cedeno teaches web development to kids at the Christina Cultural Arts Center two days before the COVID-19 lockdown. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

The Wednesday afternoon Intro to Web Development class, one of two weekly Coderrific Academy classes offered at Christina Cultural Arts Center (CCAC), was anticipated to be small this week, with nearby Kuumba Academy and Great Oaks Academy schools closed due to coronavirus concerns.

By 4:15 p.m., the room was full of kids aged 7 to 15 ready to learn how to create a web page.

The 10 laptops Coderrific brings each class for students to use usually covers all students. But today, with unexpected new faces, instructor Noah Cedeno asked a couple of first-timers to pair up with students who have been taking the class since January.

Imagine that — a no-school day, and these mostly middle school-aged kids were practically lining up to learn to code at the downtown after school resource HeArt Under the Hoodie, a program for at-risk youth.

Coderrific Academy founder Jonathan Adly is accustomed to growth. He founded the extracurricular youth coding school just over a year ago as a solution when he couldn’t find a similar extracurricular program for his daughter. What started out in the spring of 2019 in a room at Newark Community Center grew into a school with its own location in Newark by September, as demand grew.

So far, it also has three partners, at which Coderrific runs six classes on-location: CCAC, Wilmington Montessori and Las Américas ASPIRA Academy in Newark.

Classes are tuition based, but are offered for free via Heart Under the Hoodie, which has been offering a variety of free programs, including music, drama, dance and student enrichment, for nearly five years as an initiative to help curb violence in the community. A combination of grants and need-based discounts have made the coding classes possible.

Coderrific at CCAC

Coderrific founder Jonathan Adly helps students at CCAC get ready to code. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

“A lot of the kids in our community live in poverty,” said Shysheika Edwards, education director for CCAC. “If we want to effect change on a greater level it has to be free.”

The Coderrific partnership is the first coding class HeArt Under the Hoodie has offered; Edwards and CCAC program manager Virginia Shepherd decided last summer to add a STEM component to the program.

“It provides an avenue for them to understand technology,” she said. “It introduces them to a market that they probably had not been introduced to before. And, with technology advancing at the rate that it’s advancing, they need to be prepared.”

Adly says he’s seen the program have an impact on the kids.

“These kids get a huge confidence boost, because when they see they’re doing these things, they feel like they can do anything,” he said. “Not only can they build a website, they’re like, ‘I learned this supposedly very difficult thing that everybody told me I wouldn’t be able to do, and now I’m doing it and I’m good at it.’ That unlocks so many other things in their future.”

Cedeno, a game designer and Wilmington University student, led Wednesday’s class, going over the code step-by-step as the students worked on building a Wiki-style web page on a topic of their choice. Once the class settled in, Cedeno had their full attention. Instructor Nicholas Costley, a computer science major at University of Delaware, was on the other side of the room, watching the work on students’ screens and helping when needed.

Most, even the younger ones, didn’t seem to need much extra help. The intro level, Adly said, is a “building block” level that can be taught to young children along with reading and writing and basic math: “Right now we have first-year college classes teaching coding that can be learned by children,” he said.

“What we’re teaching are real skills they can use,” Adly said. “Think about the average summer job for a teenager, compared to being able to do a freelance website.”

Coderrific Academy’s next move is to open a second location, thanks to seed investment funding, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Adly also hopes to open a location in an Opportunity Zone in Wilmington, if funding can be secured.

The school is currently looking to hire a web dev instructor, and has plans to hire more in the future.

Series: Coronavirus

Before you go...

Please consider supporting Technical.ly to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, Technical.ly has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services
Engagement

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!

Trending

After shutdown threat, transformative Wilmington art space finds a new home

Cal Ripken Jr. essay: The MLB legend explains his drive to build STEM centers in schools across the nation

Startup302 awards nearly $200,000 to esports, environmental analytics and more

Drug tested in Delaware? A new medical marijuana law may protect you from getting fired

Technically Media