Over the past few months, I’ve had the honor to personally work with hundreds of applicants for our Kodable for Everyone initiative. When my cofounder Grechen and I founded Kodable, we did so with the belief that computer science education had the power to transform and improve even the poorest of communities. However, we also believe that the best way to have a lasting impact on the world is by building a stable company that can afford to continue improving its product and support the tens of thousands of schools that use us every year.
This unfortunately means that there are some schools that simply can’t afford to purchase everything we offer. However, as Kodable has grown and prospered throughout the years, we’ve started looking for ways that we could give back. Thus, Kodable for Everyone was born.
With Kodable for Everyone, we’ve donated the full Kodable K-5 Curriculum (valued at $2,700) to schools in need around the world, no strings attached. We set out to find schools that could help us achieve that transformative effect in their communities that we want Kodable to have on the entire world. Every applicant was considered on their own individual merits, but we had some general areas of focus when selecting winners:
Computer Science education has been sweeping the globe. Most major cities have already enacted their own CS initiatives, often with the generous help of major companies and nonprofits. However, some of the smaller communities that could most benefit from a 21st century education can get overlooked. We decided to focus on those areas. There’s already a CS for NYC initiative, there’s no CS for Mobile, Alabama.
We had a heavy preference toward schools that would be able to implement the Kodable Curriculum for their entire student body as opposed to just one classroom or grade level.
We believe that Computer Science should be taught with structure, by a teacher, in a classroom setting. This is why we’ve built one of the worlds leading scaffolded CS curriculums complete with scope and sequence, scripted lesson plans, and progress reporting. We had a strong leaning towards schools that had been, and would continue to use Kodable in a structured, pedagogical way, as opposed to just letting students play through our game content.
In schools, change usually begins with the administration. We looked for schools that had administrators that really supported computer science, understood the benefits, and believed that it should be taught to every child that walks through their doors.
Most schools are not fortunate enough to have a dedicated CS budget. Usually the money comes from a general fund or technology budget. However, we looked for schools facing real financial hardships instead of just limited budget money. There is a difference between an underfunded school housing refugee students that needs the money to provide take-home meals and a school electing to purchase a typing curriculum instead.
It was a truly humbling experience to see how much these schools have accomplished in their communities. So without further ado, it is my honor to introduce the 2019 Kodable for Everyone winners:
Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (Keene, New Hampshire)
Located in rural New Hampshire, Benjamin Franklin serves many students with traumatic home lives, which the Franklin staff goes above and beyond to help. Among other things, they incorporate mindfulness moments in the day, and the custodian and principal give every child a high five as they enter the building every morning.
Cedaredge Elementary (Cedaredge, Colorado)
Nestled in western Colorado in a town with a population of just 2,253, Cedaredge Elementary is committed to a culture that provides sense of belonging to all students. A Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School (One of ~100 schools out of 10,000 chosen), the staff go well above and beyond to make sure that none of their students get left behind. The past few years the school has had a particular focus on things such as including an emphasis on supporting and educating the whole child, incorporating Mind Brain Education (MBE) into their instructional practice and student learning and, also, building in more academic discourse for students to more thoroughly share their reasoning/thinking.
Central Elementary School (Bellows Falls, Vermont)
Central Elementary School is a located in a small village town in Vermont. The staff go above and beyond their contract donating time, money and goods to improve the lives of their students. Students and staff work together to create a community of caring, responsible and respectful people. This year, they started a very low budget maker space by repurposing materials for building and relying on donations of Legos and other materials. As a “Leader in Me” school, they value kindness and perseverance. Central also has yearly school themes such as Dare to Care (taking care of self, community and the world,) Get Out and Play!, and Full Steam Ahead (a whole year dedicated to STEAM activities.)
Collins-Rhodes Elementary School (Eight Mile, Alabama)
Home to one of the most caring teachers we’ve ever met, Demetra S. Adams, Collins-Rhode is located just north of Mobile, Alabama. Even though almost every student receives free lunch and many families live well below median income level, students arrive energetic and ready to learn each day. Though many view their students as those who are “in need,” Collins-Rhodes students are always thinking of ways that they can help others. They hope to one day give back to their community by being employed by the viable industries located within the community.
Comstock Green Meadow Elementary School (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
Green Meadow Elementary School recently was awarded “Lighthouse” status as a Leader in Me School. Green Meadow began the Leader in Me process four years ago, which included leadership, cultural, and academic changes. Even though their school is 92% economically disadvantaged, and their students come from diverse backgrounds, they have met and exceeded expectations in every way.
Confluence Academies – South City Academy (St Louis, Missouri)
Located in our founder Jon’s hometown of St Louis, Missouri, Confluence Academies is dedicated to helping each of their students. Even though many come from traumatic home lives, Confluence boasts incredible attendance records and students that come every day willing to learn
Cringila Public School (New South Wales, Australia)
Cringila Public School’s enrolment includes 27% refugee students and 92% of students are from families with limited access to emerging technologies. Cringila launched a K-6 STEM program in 2018 aimed to improve the educational outcomes of all students and promote not only a whole school rise in Digital Literacy, but also a whole community focus on STEM practices which will positively impact on the future professional success of their studentsEdgewood Elementary (Trenton, Ohio)
Facing drastic district cuts in electives, Edgewood has had to find new ways to bring opportunities to their students. They recently started a STEM club and integrated “tech centers” into the classroom, but faced difficulty with funding for it. Even with these struggles, they find ways to provide clothes, weekend snack bags, supplies and keep a giving closet stocked with snacks and other needed items for students who are going without.
Gabriella Charter School 2 (Los Angeles, California)
Certainly the most unique school on our list, Gabriella Charter School infuses dance in all parts of the curriculum. Students also receive at least one hour of dance instruction daily. Last year with the help of their dance teachers, students learned how to use “coding” to communicate with others in dance. Students coded their movements and were able to give choreographic instructions to others to follow. Located in South Central Los Angeles, about 75% of the adult population in the surrounding area never finished high school. Gabriella hopes Computer Science education at the elementary level will mean the opportunity for students to be exposed to ideas that they would likely never had exposure to at home.
John Moffet Elementary School (Philadelphia, PA)
Being located in Kensington, Philadelphia, hasn’t stopped John Moffet Elementary from running a full makerspace for their students. They use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) with all of their K-5 students, tying in what material is being taught in the classroom so that the makerspace enriches all of their curriculum.
Kansas City International Academy (Kansas City, Missouri)
Kansas City International Academy is an international school with a high refugee population. They serve students from over 21 different countries speaking over 15 different languages. They believe in empowering students to overcome the difficult situations they face in their daily lives, and encouraging them to learn about the unique cultures of their peers and their own families.
Monte Vista Elementary School (Las Cruces, New Mexico)
Positioned right near the USA/Mexico border in Las Cruces, Monte Vista serves a wide variety of students. To foster community, they have an annual Family Coding night where students show their parents how to code. They also have a First Robotics League team and Girls Who Code program after school.
Morrill Elementary (Morrill, Nebraska)
Morrill Elementary is committed to empowering students to become confident, knowledgeable, productive and responsible citizens of a diverse, ever-changing world. In a time when students can learn faster than teachers can talk, the teachers at Morrill understand that we must be facilitators of learning rather dispensers of information. They strive to equip students for the world they are going to graduate into rather than for the world from which they came.
Norway Elementary School (Norway, Michigan)
Norway Elementary is part of a small but very caring district in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Their school participates in a number of innovative initiatives with a lot of community involvement. These include things like “20 time” projects that help students get hands on passion projects that also connect with their community, and some staff even run community technology courses at local restaurants to get more community members to understand and enjoy Computer Science.
P.S. 233 – Langston Hughes (Brooklyn, New York)
The only school from New York City to be selected, Langston Hughes began teaching computer science lessons to students in the library last year. Their tireless and dedicated staff works to engage every student, many who are first generation Caribbean/West Indies residents. With support from administration, Computer Science education has become a main focus of their entire school’s curriculum moving forward.
Papago School (Phoenix, Arizona)
Papago is part of a diverse community in central Phoenix, Arizona, but hasn’t let them stop that from bringing innovation in education to their students. With support from their principal, Papago recently designated themselves a “signature school” focusing on coding and robotics. This has paid off in spades, and just in the last year they’ve had students work towards creating apps to help combat teen depression.
Risdon Vale Primary (Tasmania, Australia)
Located south of Sydney in the Australian state of Tasmania, Risdon Vale just added their first computer room to support ICT. Very few students have access to computers at home, and teachers help develop knowledge and skills to design, create, problem solve and evaluate digital resources individually and collaboratively to meet the demands of living in the 21st century.
Rochester Elementary/Middle School (Rochester, PA)
Rochester Elementary/Middle School is located in a small town north of Pittsburgh. They’ve recently created two maker spaces for their students using grant money and even provide in-house therapists and three hot meals a day to help students with distressing home lives.
Southwest Florida Juvenile Detention Center (Fort Myers, Florida)
Rosann Carson has spent over 20 years working at the Southwest Florida Juvenile Detention Center. We want to let her words speak for us here:
My students reside and attend school at a detention center in Lee County, Florida. Many of the students who are ordered here through the court system do not attend school on the “outs” on a regular basis. While here, it is mandatory that they attend school daily.
So far this school year, I have not had any student that has been enrolled in a computer science, programming or coding class while attending school on the “outs”, as we call it. According to my students, it doesn’t appear to be something they would be interested in and sounds like a very difficult class made for “only smart or rich kids”. Introducing my students to computer science appears to be changing how they feel about this subject. My students come in with all types of problems and they are starting to use what they are learning in their computer science class to help solve some of their real-life problems. This is a huge plus in my book! This award will allow my students to explore the world of computer science to perhaps make them consider going back to their home school and enrolling in computer science classes once they are released from the detention center. They are already excited about the different options they can take in this field and the money that can be made, so I’m hopeful this can steer them in the right direction and keep them from getting into more trouble.
Again, I appreciate this opportunity you have given my school to allow my students to see that they can achieve anything they set their minds to do. Just because they have stumbled upon a troubled path does not mean they have to continue walking down it.