Reframing Tech for Tomorrow

After that presentation, our planning group met for a Retrospective of the first sprint that was just completed. We had a plan in place for ongoing presentations from industry leaders, but we now realized that we had to quickly expand Tech for Tomorrow to provide an opportunity for students to learn how to code.

So, for our next sprint, we had to quickly spin up an after-school coding program.

We reached out to other programs we knew and asked if we could use their curriculum. We then organized volunteers to work with the students. Three weeks later, we launched an after-school program.

This program held sessions twice a week and focused on game design and web development skills. We would have about twenty kids show up with about half a dozen industry professionals for each session.

The sessions were held twice a week in the library at Franklin. Now I understood the teachers’ frustrations that they expressed at the earlier site council meeting. The computers were so decrepit that we would have to get to the library thirty minutes early just to try to boot them up. And even then, we couldn’t get all of them to work.

There was another problem. The slice of the student body that was showing up was very limited. Kids from lower-income homes weren’t there because they often had transportation problems or family obligations. Many kids of color and girls weren’t there either. It was mostly white boys who self-identified as techno-geeks. We were facing the same problem with inclusion that afflicts our entire tech industry.

But we also began to appreciate the potential of intergenerational co-learning.

Each high school in Portland is assigned a full-time police officer. They were referred to as School Resource Officers (SROs). Their job is to help the administration when there are situations that might impact the safety of the school. Needless to say, they are well known by a select few students but have little interaction with the general student body.

We invited Franklin's SRO to join us with our after-school program. He would sit with the students and learn to code with them. As the students could learn much faster than he could, he would continually ask them for help.

But the students would start to ask him for help in other areas. A relationship between them began to build through this learning partnership. He was no longer the uniform, but a curious and warm-hearted man.

Despite these successes, we had to once again reimagine. We needed to reframe what we were doing to clearly communicate that _everyone belongs at the innovation table_. In fact, the more diverse the participation, the more creative the solutions that can be developed.

So planning soon began for another launch.

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