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Microsoft

In Charleston, South Carolina, kids are learning code in the back of a laundromat.

In March 2016, the Charleston Women in Tech group, a nonprofit that supports women who are building their careers in the tech industry, started a program called CodeOn. The program's goal is to offer coding classes to kids who weren't being exposed to it at school or in their neighborhoods.

All images via Charleston Women in Tech, used with permission.


They were determined to give kids in the area the chance to learn a new skill without having to leave their community but didn't want to hold the classes at school because they thought it might be hard to get kids to commit to spending their evenings there. So when they learned about Laundry Matters — a laundromat that doubles as a community center, it seemed like a great fit. The two groups joined forces.

Their plan worked. The program kicked off on March 2, and kids ages 4 to 17 showed up, ready to learn how to code.

The laundromat where it all started.

CodeOn’s goal? To make coding accessible. And to show kids that in tech, there are opportunities.

Each week, the kids get together and work on their coding skills with their mentors, volunteers who work in various roles within the tech industry. They're given the chance to explore code — and through code, to see what they are capable of.

"The awesome thing about coding is that, if you just have a laptop and internet access, you can literally create a billion dollar company on your own," Carolyn Finch, the executive director of Charleston’s Women in Tech points out.  

Kids gathered into the back room at the laundromat, ready to learn.

"If you’re a kid living in an area in which college may or may not be on your radar, it’s something that you don’t need to have a college degree for ... it’s like a trade ... if you’re a rockstar in cybersecurity and you’re 16, you’re going to get hired by Microsoft," Finch explains.

The jobs are there. There’s an ever-increasing demand for technologists. And unlike other industries, the only barriers to entry are a computer, internet access, and a desire to learn. No college degree or even high school degree are required.

As accessible as technology can be, there are a lot of kids who don’t see a career in tech as a something that’s within their reach.

One girl tackles coding challenges with her mentor.

"There’s so many kids out there, especially from diverse backgrounds, and women and girls who may never even think they have the ability to go into tech," says Finch. "They’re never even shown that’s a possibility."

And they don’t expect every kid to love coding, but Finch says, "If they don’t like it, that’s fine. But at least they’ll have had the opportunity to try."

A young boy works on his coding skills with a mentor.

The program so far has been a hit. So many kids show up each week that they’ve outgrown the laundromat and are moving into a larger space down the street.

And in addition to gaining valuable career skills, the kids are using this as an opportunity to give back to their community.

A grocery store shut down in the neighborhood, leaving a lot of residents in a tight spot, uncertain about where to get the medications that they need. So the older kids in the program are working on building an app to address the need. The app will be a step-by-step guide to help these residents find the prescriptions they need online through trusted resources.

So focused!

"The goal is to have them work on apps that can help their community too, so that they can actually build something that they can see a tangible effect from," Finch explains. As their app comes to life, the kids are excited, and so is the rest of the community.

CodeOn has helped open the door for these kids and their families.

They’ve given the kids a skill and the knowledge that there’s an avenue out there for them. And they’ve shown them that their hard work can positively impact the people in their own communities. Coding doesn't have to be something that other people do. It's right there, at their own fingertips.

Badges of honor on their journey to mastering code.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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