The @CoderDojo Movement


Today, Polaris announced our support for The CoderDojo Movement – the effort begun by James Whelton in Dublin 2 1/2 years ago.

CoderDojos are free volunteer-supported coding clubs for young people, aged 6 to 16.

At Dojos, young people learn how to hack, code, build websites, apps, games and more – all in a fun, social and collaborative environment.

And they learn how to teach these skills to other young people.  As well as how to mentor, lead and present their ideas and work to others.

CoderDojo is supported by The Hello World Foundation James founded, which in turn, is supported in part by Polaris as its founding donor. My partner Noel Ruane, who first met James three years ago, sits on the HWF Board.

Since James began in June 2011 with the first CoderDojo held in County Cork, Ireland with 40 kids participating, over 215 CoderDojos have introduced over 10K children in 27 countries monthly to the wonders of coding.

In August 2011, just after James met Noel, he also met Tom Preston-Werner from GitHub.  It proved to be a seminal meeting, as Tom so resonated with the CoderDojo movement’s values that he helped James set up the first US Dojo in GitHub’s offices.

Which led to Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Engine Yard, Cisco and others jumping onto the team to help set up ad-hoc CoderDojo events with James.

The Hello World Foundation and Polaris’ support of it is all about helping to accelerate and scale these first U.S. beachhead events into a continuous, self-sustaining global movement.

And about building on James’ vision of an interconnected, self-sustaining, collaborative community of Dojos throughout the U.S.

Why Coderdojo?

  • Industry: CoderDojo’s meeting an industry need.  There’s a global technology skill shortage which isn’t being addressed. Millennials and their children will form the talent pool for the next generations of great start-ups.
  • Education: Code education is not readily-accessible for children wishing to learn.  Coding teaches creative and logical problem-solving skills. And helps to reveal confidence, self-esteem and leadership abilities.
  • Society: Not only is there a major gender imbalance within the tech sector (less than 10 % of developers worldwide are women), but there’s also a lack of community, recognition and platforms for young coders.
  • CoderDojo aims to help fill the voids left by traditional and mainstream education systems.
  • CoderDojo really does turns hacking into a social hobby!

The Foundation’s goal is to scale to over 1,000 Dojos by 2015, resulting in over 50,000 new coders (with the objective of 40% female) to be created and inspired.

Its over-arching goal is to create a self-sustaining, global, interconnected & collaborative Dojo community.

Hello Boston & Cambridge:

Polaris today announced that we’re partnering with Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino and his staff (led by Chief of Staff, Mitch Weiss) to bring CoderDojo to the children of Boston.

First, in the Innovation District’s new District Hall facility across the street from our new office-to-be in Seaport on Saturday, November 23.

After that, to the neighborhoods themselves in communities throughout the city.

boston strong

And Cambridge will not be far behind.

The first Boston Dojo session will teach how to create and style a website with HTML & CSS, including how to embed YouTube Videos, Twitter feeds, Google Maps and more. At the end of the session, all attendees will have the opportunity to put their site up on the internet. Future sessions for more advanced coders will teach the basics and intermediate drills of Ruby, Python, Java, HTML5 and Node.js.

You can follow @CoderDojo on Twitter, and @CoderDojoBOS as the Movement starts to begin here in Boston/Cambridge.   And the events page to find out more about the first Boston event on November 23.

James Whelton, Polaris Entrepreneur Out-of-Residence:

As above, my partner Noel Ruane and Polaris have been working closely with James for several years now, as he described today on the Polaris blog.

James is a special, unique, truly-extraordinary talent, who’s joined us as Entrepreneur-Out-of-Residence.

“Special.” “Unique.”Extraordinary.”  Words we use to describe the repeat entrepreneurs with whom we’ve built enduring relationship for over the past 17 years.  And a big part of Polaris’ success over that time and in the future.

James qualifies.  Having never attended university, James has lived his life with a passion for coding and innovation.  And has captured the minds and excitement of a generation of young, aspiring developers.

And he’s achieved.  He’s been named the youngest-ever Ashoka Fellow, named to Forbes’ “30 under 30” for his work as a Social Entrepreneur, and as the 2013 Irish Internet Association’s Person of the Year.

james whelton circle

Why “Out-of-Residence”, you might ask?

Simple.  James, in addition to working on his own start-up ideas, will be taking to the U.S. to help spread the gospel of CoderDojo.

He’s a living, breathing example of a truly-special talent who has benefited from opportunity to be exposed, at a nascent point in his life, to the wonders of coding. And to the power of innovation.

We’re thrilled to have him on board.  And stoked to help him change a piece of the world through advancing The CoderDojo Movement.

As we said in our press release today, our support of The Hello World Foundation is the latest phase of our efforts to help build and support the technology ecosystem and community in the Boston/Cambridge market.

Imagine the entrepreneurial power of a new generation that can thrive technologically in the same manner that our generation did in areas such as athletics and the arts.

We’re supporting something very special here.

Innovation is a journey.  And that journey is a continuum.

You’ll see Polaris’ innovation supportive efforts continue – and continually re-invented to support points all along the continuum.

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