Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Code Differently’s young developers aim to make an impact as they learn

The Wilmington education org aims to build a school-to-college pipeline. During Philly Tech Week's Developers Conference, four of its teen participants showed off apps they made this summer.

Code Differently's PTW20 Developers Conference talk.


Delaware was well represented at Philly Tech Week 2020 presented by Comcast’s Developers Conference on Wednesday, as Wilmington’s Code Differently split its 30-minute time slot between two teams of youth software developers talking through the apps they built in the experimental learning program over the summer.

Young people, Code Differently instructor Roger Campbell II said during the case study session “Building Wakanda: A Delaware Story,” have been intensely impacted by COVID-19, between remote learning, canceled sports and other activities, and not being able to hang out with friends in general. Many teenagers also feel helpless, and are looking for ways to help.

This was reflected in the apps the students created: Zoë Jackson and Destiny Ryals developed an app that allows users to easily find charities and donate to them, the coding process for which they explained in their flash talk. And Prince Adenusi and Eric Tlaseca took a simple schoolyard game, Rock Paper Scissors, and made it virtual with an app that lets you play the game with an automated robot hand.

“We want to bring individuals together even while being apart during this hard time in COVID-19,” Eric said. “Communication skills are being lost. We took that into consideration and saw how something that we can do in real life can be applied and coded.”

“Given the ability to write lines of code has given these youth the ability to build apps that can help,” said Campbell. “The innovation of these youth allows them to connect with each other to bring back a semblance of regularity and opportunity.”

All of this is an applied demonstration of Code Differently’s mission: “What does it do when we start to empower people, not only as adults, but as youths — as high school students, as college students, even down to the middle-school age?”


For the traditionally under-resourced students Code Differently focuses on, there is already an impact.

“My parents didn’t graduate middle school, so with that in mind I had to be the one in my family to be an example to my little brothers, ” Eric said. “Just getting into coding, getting into JavaScript and other languages, inspired me to continue on to post-secondary education.”

Eric is currently working on an app to help students manage their time and connect with each other and their community.

“With my little brothers, I see how bad they struggle to manage their time [with virtual schooling], just in elementary school,” he said. “The pressure is on me to make sure that they’re going online, doing the right work. So this is my dream app.”

Prince, a visual artist, is working his goal to build a website using HTML and CSS for his own clothing brand. And Destiny plans to stick with programming for the long haul.

“I want to continue to learn coding in all aspects,” she said. “It’s a dream of mine to continue with software development as I get older. I really do love it.”

What’s next for Code Differently youth?

“They’re taking the next few weeks and are going to be learning more in-depth about those languages that they focused on in the summer,” said Campbell. “Once they finish that phase, we’ve actually started partnering with businesses to send up proof-of-concept projects, and we ask that these companies send us ideas that students might be able to work on to build their portfolio. We’re also going to allow them the opportunity to pitch some ideas themselves for us to build in the dev shop in the early spring.”

If you’re interested in connecting your business with Code Differently, reach out on its website.

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