Access to tech tools, combined with digital literacy education, can unlock a child’s potential for a career in STEM-related fields. That’s why Houston-based nonprofit Compudopt offers high-quality, project-based after-school programming that equips students with the skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow.
“Through our technology education programs, we are inspiring the next generation of innovators and supporting the development of a diverse talent pipeline,” said Megan Steckly, CEO of Compudopt. “With technology jobs being the fastest growing employment market in the US, and only 35% of US high schools teaching computer science, technology education programs are fundamental to our future economic success.”
Founded in 2007 by Jonathan Osha, Compudopt believes that every child deserves equal access to education and opportunity. With programming across 19 US states (plus DC), in urban, suburban, and rural settings, Compudopt adapts to meet the needs of each age cohort, with an emphasis of learning together in person at local schools. “We believe that students learn best through hands-on interaction with technology,” said Mariel Sanchez, National Program Director.
Developed in conjunction with teachers, education consultants, nonprofit partners, and subject-matter experts, all curriculum is designed and created based on age-specific interests, needs, and learning levels, from 1st through 12th grade. 56% of participating students lack access to a computer at home, demonstrating the urgent need for hardware access and digital literacy opportunities. Many of Compudopt’s trainers understand the importance of these programs because they, too, grew up with little exposure to digital tools and services.
“There was this stigma about growing up in an under-resourced community,” explained Erny Gonzalez, Compudopt’s Lead Program Trainer in Los Angeles. “People would just assume that I wasn’t capable or that I was incompetent. I wanted to do more, but there was nothing being offered in [STEAM]. I recall going into middle school and a teacher approached me and presented me with an opportunity to take part in his club. This one simple action of handing me a flier changed my life in ways I would have never expected. I went on to pursue STEAM, and I found a passion within this field. All I want to do is present kids with those very same opportunities. They are just as capable and deserving as any other kid. My goal is to make change, and I firmly believe that my work at Compudopt aligns with those objectives.”
For many students, developing basic computer skills is the first step. In Compudopt’s Tiny Tech’s program for grades 1-2, trainers work with children to develop computational thinking approaches to problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork. In the Early Adopters program for grades 3-5, students learn how hardware, software, and creativity work together. From age 6 to early young adulthood, Compudopt incites curiosity about technology and prepares today’s youth to maximize their potential for future careers.
“Compudopt programs open up a world of career possibilities to students,” said Cheresse Thoeny, Teen Services Librarian at the Seattle Public Library. “They can see themselves in careers they never imagined being interested in before.”