When Jordan Quinn, 17, joined the computer science program at Northeast High — after changing schools a dozen times because of his mother’s duties with the military — it helped him bridge his two passions: marine biology and technology.
That turnaround moment is what CS4Philly wants to replicate across Philly. The effort, managed by the Philadelphia STEM Lab, has banded together 27 organizations — think Temple and Drexel, but also Coded by Kids and TechGirlz — around its main goal: developing a scalable model for computer science deployment in Philadelphia’s network of K–12 public schools.
The push, launched Wednesday at City Hall, has weight at the top: honorary campaign chairs include Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Education Fund President Farah Jimenez, Comcast exec David Cohen and tech entrepreneur Bob Moul, who initially made the call to action under the #TEaCH banner this summer.
For Naomi Housman, founder of the Philadelphia STEM Lab, the summit was about building an opportunity for stakeholders to come together and share visions and goals. The summit will be followed by a series of “Design Studios” meant to give shape to the program’s rollout.
— Technical.ly Philly (@TechnicallyPHL) December 6, 2017
What can Philly’s tech ecosystem do to pitch in?
“It will take money,” Moul warned, but there’s also a need for mentorship programs and co-op and internship systems that let students get on-the-job validation of their skills.
Moul, who left other nonprofit obligations to get behind the push towards K–12 computer science said the next step is joining other organizations to develop a pilot program that can be scaled.
“We cannot keep systematically holding our kids back and not preparing them for the jobs of the 21st century,” he told Technical.ly in September. On Wednesday, he doubled down on his push that Philly’s economic future rests upon preparing kids for the digital economy.
Mayor Kenney, per his usual, stumped for the work done by Coded by Kids and proclaimed the tech industry as a catalyst for Philly’s economic growth.
“It’s critical that we’re successful in this initiative, otherwise, we’re never going to change the poverty numbers in this city,” Kenney said.-30-