Being able to use and understand technology is becoming more and more important for success in the modern era, but students rarely engage in computer science in their traditional education. While jobs in computer programming are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying opportunities, 90% of schools do not offer any computer science classes.
The national organization CodeSpeak Labs helps to fill this gap, preparing students for 21st-century success by teaching them tech skills like coding and digital design. Students from all over the country can participate in CodeSpeak Labs’ online courses in programming languages, entrepreneurship, and design. Together, students work to develop websites, apps, online games, and more.
“Coding is important because we can use it to create technology that can help people who have disabilities, explore science, and deal with pressing issues to mankind, such as global warming,” said Hannah, one of CodeSpeak’s middle school-age students. “To create technology for any of these things, you absolutely need coding.”
Students receiving a live critique from VELA during The Next Step work session
Given the many real-world applications of these tech-related skills, CodeSpeak Labs launched The Next Step, a creative agency led by high school-aged student designers. This agency helps organizations launch websites, create social media content, and generate brand awareness while giving students paid real-world experience, material for their portfolios, and mentorship, including college and career support. Over 95% of participants believe they have gained valuable skills and real world experience from the program.
One of the posts The Next Step students designed for the VELA Student Champion program.
VELA Education Fund has even partnered with The Next Step on its weekly VELA Student Champion Series on Instagram! VELA grant recipients nominate learners from their programs, and students from The Next Step take information from the applications to design social media posts to celebrate the students’ success.
Visit our Instagram page to see the students’ hard work in action!