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CodeVA

Anyone can code. Every Virginia child should have the opportunity to learn. CodeVA began with Christopher and Rebecca Dovi, two longtime Richmonders who have collectively spent more than 40 years involved in the region's K-12 education community. In 2013, after reporting for Richmond magazine on the dire state of computer science education in the Richmond region, Chris Dovi approached his wife, Rebecca about using her nationally-recognized expertise as a CS teacher trainer and curriculum development specialist as the cornerstone of a training and advocacy organization focused on Virginia teachers and students -- on bringing Computer Science to Virginia's public schools. At the time, typically fewer than 1 percent of Virginia students graduated having taken a computer science course. Meanwhile, the vast majority of jobs and careers in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- including a growing segment of banking and retail support -- were jobs that required computer programming skills. Shortly after the pair decided to make good on their plan, they were approached by Code.org, a national organization that was in its own infancy, and which had sought out Rebecca to serve on its education advisory board. Code.org agreed to fund CodeVA's teacher training programs in the state, though it provided no operating dollars toward that effort. In spite of a lack of funding both Dovi's chose to leave their respective careers to focus on CodeVA, and on making computer science education a part of curriculum from kindergarten to high school in all Virginia public schools. What is computer science? Before CodeVA kicked off its efforts in 2014, few education policymakers knew, and few even contemplated why they needed to know. Meanwhile, many had turned their focus to STEM, a catch-all acronym. But what they didn't know was hurting the kids they sought to help. STEM is just letters -- unpronounceable to the job market until you add computer programming -- Computer Science is the language of STEM. In 2013, the year before CodeVA began, just 1655 students statewide took the AP Computer Science Java class. Of those, about 300 were girls -- just 16 were African American girls. By Fall 2014, just a few months after CodeVA commenced its efforts, every single comprehensive high school in Richmond Public Schools boasted a trained computer science teacher offering an introductory CS curriculum. By this coming fall, CodeVA will have trained an additional 150 middle and high school teachers in Richmond and the surrounding region, and from across the state, vastly increasing student access to Computer Science education. Located at the crossroads of the Digital Dominion -- 300 E. Broad Street in downtown Richmond -- our first priority is bringing computer science education to the metro-Richmond region, through both teacher training and through direct outreach programs to Richmond children. CodeVA is the only teacher training program of its kind in the state -- all of its training offerings are free. Many pay teachers to participate. Until this year CodeVA was the only such organization in the nation operating on a statewide level. Dedicated to providing free training and support to teachers, to advocating for computer science curriculum and courses in their schools, and to providing first-hand opportunities to under-served Richmond area students through after-school and summer programs, CodeVA already has changed the face of public education. Policymakers -- from Gov. Terry McAuliffe and his deputies all the way down to local school districts and classrooms -- are taking note of the critical importance of Computer Science literacy. Most Computer Science education organizations focus on after-school enrichment. CodeVA firmly believes that after-school programs have their place and their value -- heck, we offer them. But we also know that those programs are meaningless without foundational lessons built into a comprehensive, systemic K-12 curriculum in public schools every day. Like reading or math, Computer Science is fundamental. CodeVA teaches kids to code.

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