We have created a network of free programming clubs for children and involved leading IT companies in its development. How we managed it
Code Club is a great way for companies with which we share values to show their social activity in the market, while helping the project to teach children. The most important thing in any project is to find the first financial partner who will believe in the idea and value of the initiative. Our partners are TAScombank and TAS life. So the case of how to promote a free educational project in Ukraine, the project leader of Code Club Ukraine Alina Shcherbyna shared with the portal mc.today.
In 2010, two Brits - web designer Claire Sutcliffe and programmer Linda Sandwick - came up with the Code Club project. The aim of the initiative is to create free clubs where children can learn programming after school.
The project quickly spread throughout the UK and then around the world. Ukraine was the first to support it, and in 2013, at the initiative of Victoria Tigipko and the TA Ventures Foundation, the Code Club Ukraine network was opened.
Since then, more than 24,000 children and adolescents have received free programming training at the club's clubs. Club teachers are volunteers who teach children and teenagers for free.
– I want to talk about how to promote a free educational project in Ukraine, where to get money for it and how to motivate leading IT companies to join it, – says Alina Shcherbyna, project leader of Code Club Ukraine. – I joined the initiative in November last year. He was then five years old. And it became obvious that the project needed to be restarted. All these years he showed good results, but developed in a very one-sided way.
In Ukraine, there are strong IT-regions - Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Odessa, in which we should now emphasize this industry, Alina continues: The first thing I did was analyze Code Club's operations, marketing activities, team, its KPIs, content, internal database in a month - everything that the project consisted of.
After that, my team and I began to build a further strategy. At the time, I had long worked with the Wtech women's business community and understood the importance of networking.
I united the team in one space, started doing common twins, trainings, activities to motivate the curators of the whole country to share information and help each other.
The next step is to build an "adult" strategy. Whether it is a global company or a charity project, every employee must work for the end result, feel their significance and responsibility.
We introduced the preparation and presentation of the strategy of each region. The team learned to do a SWOT analysis (identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats), break down their activities into business processes and plan timings for the year ahead.
Another factor I brought from my professional life in commercial projects: Code Club is a great way for companies with which we have the same values to show their social activity in the market, while helping the project to teach children. Actually, that's how the idea of rebooting came. Over the years, the project has stalled a bit: there are fewer new volunteers, we could teach fewer children. Code Club needed a good shake.
Reboot Code Club Ukraine
A year ago we updated and actually restarted the Code Club. The project team has changed by about 30%. This is normal when the work style and operational requirements change.
The restart was accompanied by quarantine - it accelerated the transformation and the transition to online. We would not achieve such results offline. And without such conditions, it would be much harder to convince the team to change the format of work.
The only thing that didn't work out was to fulfill the planned plan for the partners. We need additional funding to develop the project and educate even more children, expand the regions and update programs, and several agreements have been canceled due to the pandemic.
Our mission now is to make IT education accessible to every child and to bring all members of the IT industry together in a powerful community. We invite companies to cooperate, give them the opportunity to join children's IT education.
We are already cooperating with socially responsible companies of the country, including EPAM, Lohika, Ciklum, Citrus, coworking space Atom Space in Odessa, TAScombank, TAS life, TA Ventures, as well as with IT clusters in the regions. We recently signed a memorandum of cooperation with the European Software Engineering Association Ease.
Our goal is to create a new mentoring culture in Ukraine
We teach IT professionals to be mentors and pass on their knowledge to the younger generation. IT students can pump skills and practice with us. Experts from our related projects Wtech and iClub conduct lectures and trainings with us, we teach our mentors oratory and communication with children.
And we give the best mentors-students letters of recommendation of the international sample. That is, working in the Code Club as a mentor, students can officially close a university internship.
There are currently 1,068 Code Club groups in Ukraine. Since 2013, 24,322 students have been trained. More than 1,300 volunteers have already collaborated with our project. More than 1,032 students took part in the Code Club Ukraine summer online intensive in 2020, which is the best result of Code Club World 2020.
How we work
The central office of the project is located in Kyiv, 15 curators work all over the country, volunteers teach. Over the last year, our team has grown and strengthened a lot. And also we open a new region - Mariupol.
We rebuilt the structure, divided the management of the project into strategy and tactics. Anna Derevyanko, who started the project six years ago as a volunteer, became the curator of the region and later the operations director. We have also strengthened the team responsible for communication and PR.
Our training is based on British methods of studying Scratch, Hard Scratch, HTML & CSS, Python for beginners. Mentors also develop author's techniques that complement the main program.
I will note that in 2019 we received the stamp of the Ministry of Education and Science, which officially allows us to use our program in any educational institution in the country! The project is free for students, but it still needs money to work. 70% - salaries to employees, the rest - to support the site.
Before Code Club, I worked for many years on commercial projects of various formats. So I immediately understood that I would find the finances for this project. The most important thing in any project is to find the first financial partner who will believe in the idea and value of the initiative. Our partners are TAScombank and TAS life.
We often talk about what one person can do, how he can change the whole system. How to change people's opinions, how to influence ingrained stereotypes?
Personally, I made a decision for myself: to invest time and knowledge in a socially useful project. We really help someone, we motivate someone to get involved in intellectual volunteering!