In December of last year, online code-learning portal Code School held their Give The Gift of Code initiative; for every subscription that was sold that month, they also gifted a 3-month subscription to a nonprofit that supports coding literacy.
After the wild success of that program, they decided that they would do the same initiative in a different way. “We thought, for every time someone buys one of these, why don’t we give one away?” says Gregg Pollack, the founder and CEO of Code School. “And then what we can do is let non-profits apply for these accounts and just give them away.”
With help from their parent company, PluralSight, they decided to award 3,000 scholarships to 20 nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada – and Toronto-based Ladies Learning Code will be among them. “It creates a diverse workforce, and obviously, we need more female programmers,” Pollack says. “It makes sense to make sure that we help to fix this gender gap and all companies have to do something to help with that initiative.”
Ladies Learning Code hosts beginner-friendly workshops for women who want to learn how to code, and since its 2011 inception, has expanded across Canada and now includes Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code programs. “It started from us just wanting to learn to code, and not having those resources available to us,” says co-executive director Melissa Sariffodeen. “We thought, there are so many other women who want to do this, and the biggest limiting factor is just the confidence and accessibility of getting started.”
Obviously, she is excited about being able to enrich their workshop experiences. “We traditionally do these in-person, one-day beginner workshops, and we find that there are a lot of questions after,” Sariffodeen says. Because they’ve had so many questions, they’ve created a pay-what-you-can Code and Coffees event where people can get extra help on projects they’ve created at workshop sessions. “With Code School, we can give women access to online tools and work on these lessons together in-person, while still getting the benefits of our 4:1 mentor ratio.”
This scholarship is just another example of how integral the support of the developer communities is in keeping Ladies Learning Code as successful as it has been. “Even today, the most amazing thing about what we’ve done is that the community of developers has really helped us create those content so that we could mentor at our workshops,” Sariffodeen says. “It’s just a testament to how co-operative the developer and design community are.”