Cleveland Coders is a multi-faceted mentoring initiative developed by UBF. The first pilot program was launched in the Richmond Heights School District on October 19, 2015. President Obama was the inaugural Cleveland Coder, receiving a Cleveland Coder t-shirt and cap when he visited Cleveland in March, 2015.
Adults make up teams of mentors assigned to classes of 20–25 students. Students learn about collaboration, teamwork and innovation. As an added bonus, the program introduces students to computer science, coding concepts and other career readiness skills. This is, in effect, not just mentoring but mentoring with a mission. Each class of Coders receives a customized lanyard as part of their uniform that identifies their projected high school graduation year; for example current 5th graders are Richmond Heights Coders ‘23 and 6th graders are Richmond Heights Coders ‘22. (President Obama’s shirt was Cleveland Coders ‘44, recognizing the number of his presidency.)
UBF assumed the responsibility for creating the program, identifying the organizational partners, coordinating the planning, writing the grant, and now serves as fiscal agent for Community Connectors’ funding from the Ohio Department of Education.
Partners in the Cleveland Coders project are: Richmond Heights Schools; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland; New Life Cathedral; Cleveland Public Library; Great Lakes Science Center; Northcoast Evaluation Services; PNC; National Technical Association; IReach, Inc.; and Cleveland State University Police. Richmond Heights is the first of many more school districts who will soon be participating in this program.
In developing the Cleveland Coders, UBF has partnered with code.org, founded by brothers Ali andHadi Partovi, in utilizing their successful coding curriculum.
By working as an “expert advisor,” in projects like this, UBF is able to make a greater impact in its three areas of focus: Workforce Development, Basic Needs and Education.