A recently formed local chapter of an organization that aims to inspire young Black boys to become digital creators and technological innovators through coding workshops is rapidly gaining popularity in the nation’s capital.
While restrictions on in-person gatherings due to COVID-19 are still in place, 40 boys took part earlier this month in the first online course hosted by the Ottawa chapter of Black Boys Code. Participants learned to program for Micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer that runs on the Microsoft Makecode platform.
Black Boys Code Ottawa is a part of an 11-city organization that includes chapters in Atlanta, Brampton, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Windsor. Founded in 2015 in Vancouver, Black Boys Code was created to inspire young Black boys to take control of their future through programs and workshops that are geared towards helping them develop digital literacy and computer competence with the ultimate goal of a career in tech.
Since hosting its first event last November focused on designing and building a webpage from scratch as well as a February event called “The future is automation,” the Ottawa chapter has gone on to have the highest participation rate in the network, becoming the model for other Black Boys Code cities.
“One of the most fulfilling things in my life is to partner with my team in sharing the principles we have learned in life with the young kings at Black Boys Code Ottawa,” says Thomas Cumberbatch, Ottawa chapter lead and the CEO of Godzspeed Communications. “These boys are tomorrow’s creators, innovators and leaders. I look forward to witnessing greatness from these young men.”
With cities across Canada – including Ottawa – facing tech talent shortages, Black Boys Code is positioning Black men to enter this expanding field.
“The Canadian job market is going through incredible structural changes, and Black Boys Code would like to prepare Black boys in Canada to play their part in that future,” founder and CEO Bryan Johnson says. “We don’t just teach kids how to code. We help them develop critical problem-solving and leadership skills in a collaborative and supportive environment. We give them the tools to shape their own future. We show them how to be leaders.”
The Ottawa chapter will also be playing an integral role in developing a national organization. Cumberbatch is currently working with Johnson to structure the organization for future growth.
No programming experience is required for participants, who range in age from eight to 12. The course will be held one Saturday per week over a four-week period, with the course resuming online this Saturday, June 20 at 1 p.m.