Philly CoderDojo was started as a local CoderDojo to serve students in Philadelphia and South Jersey areas. CoderDojo is an open source, volunteer led international movement of free computer programming clubs for young people. At Dojos, young people between 7 and 17 learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games and more. Dojos are set up, run by and led by volunteer members of the community, for their local community.

Among the 10 largest US cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of deep poverty, households with incomes below half of the poverty line. [1] This city is one of the most unequal cities in the country, with high levels of disparity in key indicators including income, housing value, and education level. [2] According to the PCCY Child Wellness Index: Philadelphia Indicators – Economic Well-Being: In 2014, there were 36.9% Children living in Poverty (125,807 children). In 2014 there were 17.8% Children living in Deep Poverty (60,686 children). In 2014 there were 75.8% of Children are Eligible for Subsidized School Meals (158,858 children). In 2014 there were 66.2% Children living in Rent Burdened Households (116,462 children). [3] Philadelphia children are living in generational poverty while livable wage jobs sit unoccupied.

College provides a pathway to high-paying jobs but only 1 in 3 adults achieve a bachelor’s degree (2015 US Census) leaving many youths unprepared to enter a highly skilled workforce that they can’t afford to become qualified for. A report from Burning Glass, a job market analytics firm, found that there were as many as 7 million job openings in 2015 in occupations that required coding skills. They also found that programming jobs overall are growing 12% faster than the market average. Technology skills and computational thinking are critical to promoting prosperity in the lives of youth especially those who come from low-income families.

Philly CoderDojo youth (ninjas) are developing coding expertise. Simultaneously they are being invited to attend science and technical fairs; engineering, design and robotics competitions; given opportunities for entrepreneurship by innovating and developing new technologies and exploring original design and ideas; engage in STEM internships and summer jobs; re-invest in their communities via design problem solving projects; visit and apply to technical-oriented high schools, college and universities giving them a cognitive and early professional advantage.

Philly CoderDojo plans to combat the digital skills gap creating a diverse pipeline to these fast-growing technology enabled jobs.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Survey. Economy League of Greater Philadelphia: Driving Tech Talent Growth in PHL – Technical Report/ PYN

[2] Urban Institute PYN

[3] October 2016 Left Out: The Status of Children in Philadelphia – Public Citizens for Children + Youth

[4] Burning Glass, job market analytics report/ Glass, Burning. “Real-time insight into the market for entry-level STEM jobs.” Retrieved Mar 25 (2014): 2014.

[5] 2015 US Census

[6] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS), “Degrees and Other Formal Awards Conferred” surveys, IPEDS Fall 2000 through Fall 2015, Completions component. (This table was prepared September 2016.)

[7] 2017 Economy League Report: Driving Tech Talent Growth in PHL – Technical Report