The San José Public Library is proud to lead the Coding5K Challenge, a citywide initiative designed to further enhance access to free, quality STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) learning programs for students in grades K-12. With the help from the Library Foundation and our corporate and community partners, Coding5K provides local students with access to technology and coding programs that will better prepare them to enter the 21st century workforce in Silicon Valley.
By leveraging assessment tools and expert volunteers, Coding5K offers year-round, age-appropriate workshops in basic, intermediate, and advanced coding, in addition to robotics and full-day coding focused summer camps targeted toward communities and demographics traditionally underrepresented in the technology industry. In this technological age, coding is a part of everything around us, so having this knowledge is critically important, regardless of the career path a child chooses to take.
Whether a child’s future includes a career in computer science or not, coding exposes them to new learning opportunities, and builds skills that reinforce academic success — creativity, risk-taking, collaboration, and the idea that learning is a process rather than a product. Coding plays an increasingly large role in our society, and as the self-proclaimed “Capital of Silicon Valley”, San José is uniquely positioned to benefit from and impact this growing and evolving field.
By 2026, our region is projecting a gap of 97,520 jobs in the computer science field, with a median average salary of $101,000. However, we are seeing a growing gap between the people who work in these fields and the people who live in San José.
The Coding5K Challenge provides equitable educational access to students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn and grow in these key fields of study, enabling more of our community to participate in the industry that has made Silicon Valley thrive.
“There are not a lot of places where you can learn coding, especially for free, and the library is a hub for the community and having it here makes it easy for people. I love being able to help my students when they are feeling stuck and when they see the solution, I really enjoy that smile on their face.” – Prothit Halder, Coding5K teacher
Thanks to our generous donors and sponsors (see below), the Library Foundation has been able to support classroom technology sets, maintenance and expansion of centralized robotics kits and curricula, and program collateral to increase Coding5K awareness and marketing. This allowed the Library to maintain high programmatic quality and continue to pilot and iterate new offerings in response to a rapidly evolving social environment. 4,478 unduplicated students participated in online and in-person Coding5K programs during FY2019-20, with more than 33% identifying as Latinx.
With the advent of COVID-19, SJPL staff moved Coding5K to a virtual model by purchasing browser-based software and curricula that allowed students to log in from any device and learn at their own pace. Staff was also able to offer virtual office hours with support from volunteers.
When Santa Clara County became the first jurisdiction in the nation to issue a COVID-19 shelter-in-place order in March 2020, SJPL staff worked quickly to convert all of their 2020 Summer Camps to a virtual setting, allowing students to continue to take advantage of high-quality learning from a distance. Browser-based software was purchased to allow students to log in from any device, and SJPL staff provided technology training to certificated K-12 teachers as well as on-call tech support during camp activities.
Campers worked in groups of ten (10) via Zoom to collaborate on coding and STEM projects, engage with educational guest speakers, and share their work with friends and family in an online space. SJPL also successfully piloted a socially distanced camp activity kit pick-up event, providing bags with all the needed STEM activity supplies and ensuring that every camper was able to fully participate in the activities, regardless of their family’s economic status.
Summer 2020 also featured the first full camp for younger coders ages 5-7, in addition to a wider range of teen-focused activities to encourage greater participation among late middle/early high school students. Overall, Summer 2020 Coding5K camps served a total of 124 campers, with half (4) of the camps for girls-only with the other half co-ed.
The Coding5K program and the scholarships we offer to adult learners is made possible through the generosity of the following organizations and individuals.