Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center receives kids coding grant

Coded By Kids is on track to reach 300 students weekly throughout the city.

Sylvester Mobley said he finds it necessary to start creating diversity in the coding field and separate out “common discriminators such as race and gender.”

Coded by Kids, a nonprofit founded by Mobley, a 2007 finance alumnus, just received a $17,500 grant from AT&T to teach children how to code. Mobley, the nonprofit’s CEO will use the grant in North Philadelphia, beginning a coding program for kids at the Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center on 22nd Street near Sergeant.

Coded by Kids is a program designed to ensure brighter futures for kids from low-income households through science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

The Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center in Mt. Airy will also host an iteration of the Coded By Kids program. Due to a recent expansion, Coded by Kids will offer 14 coding classes throughout the city, making it Philadelphia’s largest youth coding program, according to a press release. Mobley launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $50,000 to launch 12 new classes by 2017.

“The key mission of Coded by Kids is to remove the barriers to high-quality tech education to underprivileged groups,” Mobley said.

Through this program, Coded by Kids employees work together using their technological expertise to teach kids the educational opportunities in web and mobile web application design and development.

Coded by Kids just turned 3 years old, after Mobley founded the organization inspired by his experiences teaching children in recreation centers throughout Philadelphia. The group has trained more than 90 children throughout the city.

Mobley said in Pennsylvania school districts, there is no dedicated funding toward computer science programs unless the district has a partnership or a grant. There are also no specific requirements for computer science teachers to have a background in coding.

“We are giving these young individuals the opportunity to become their own producers, and empower them to get the skills and resources they need to start developing within their communities,” Mobley said.

“Becoming involved with this organization gave me an opportunity to bring students legitimate, high-quality tech information, and the basic building blocks of creating a website or even an app,” said  Maggie Deptola, the operations manager of Coded by Kids. “This could empower young, molding minds to do a lot of things, even creating a website that sells a product that would benefit their communities.”

Barbara Bell, director of the after-school activities at the Cecil B. Moore Recreation Center said her students are extremely excited for the project to begin.

“It’s just what the kids of the community need in order to advance themselves and break those barriers that they are faced with every day,” Bell said. “The kids are always anxious to get on the computers, so this program will be perfect for them to actually utilize the technology for a greater purpose.”

Mobley said this program can ensure underprivileged youth have access to a higher tech education, regardless of their economic bracket or where they live. Coded by Kids looks to provide students with a free source of education in tech programs to fully prepare them for the workforce and to gain a successful future within the economy.

“We are continuously looking for volunteers to become a part of this movement and help its funding campaign so it can continue to develop further,” Mobley said.

“It is possible that what they are learning in these computer tech classes, is something they could teach other members of their families and spread the education,” Bell said. “I think they will absolutely love it.”

Kate Crilly can be reached at katherine.crilly@temple.edu.

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