Investing in the future of black boys through interactive coding workshops
In 2016, Bryan Rolston Johnson realized that young Black boys in his community were not entering the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), an area of personal interest to him. What started as a 3-month project by the Vancouver-based project manager turned into a 10-chapter international charitable journey, with Johnson as founder and CEO. Today, Black Boys Code spans from coast to coast in Canada, and is now entering the United States, giving Black male youth valuable exposure to computer science education.
Through in-person classes – and now due to COVID-19 – virtual learning programs, boys ages 8 - 17 are taught computer science courses led by accomplished Black male instructors from various technology fields. Through their leadership, these volunteers show the students how what is taught in the classroom can translate into real world opportunities. Black Boys Code programs also provide participants with guest speaker lectures delivered by Black men in high profile roles as executives and business leaders within the IT community. The program strives to demonstrate to these youth that they can have a place in the world of technology, inspired by positive, successful role models in various related industries.
“It is important that Black boys understand how technology works so they may become creators in the future and not just consumers of technology. Black Boys Code not only gives my son a fun way to explore tech, but also an opportunity to see examples of what he can strive to become professionally by being introduced to Black males who have experience in this field,” said the parent of one program participant. “Black Boys Code is a wonderful initiative.”
Through a TELUS Friendly Future Foundation grant, Johnson and his team of 120 volunteers are able to give Black students an elevated learning experience. To date, this funding has supported curriculum updates and operational classroom essentials, ensuring that the program can grow to include more participants in more regions.
“The Canadian job market is going through incredible structural changes and the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, along with Black Boys Code, is preparing Black boys in Canada to play their part in that future,” said Johnson. “These funds have allowed our Toronto chapter to reach our goal of not just teaching the kids how to code, but helping them develop critical problem solving and leadership skills in a collaborative and supportive environment.”
With over 1500 program participants to date, we’re supporting programs like Black Boys Code to ensure that all youth can create positive relationships with supportive role models and learn valuable STEM skills along the way. We’re proud to support STEM programs across the country for boys and girls through educational and technology-based charitable programs. In this ever changing world of technology, giving youth the foundational tools they need to succeed will help us create a friendlier future for all.
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