Kids in Phoenix can now capitalize on a learning opportunity that most schools don’t offer.
The City of Phoenix offers free computer programming classes at locations citywide, available to those between the ages of 4 and 17.
Since the state legislature controls the education budget in Arizona, Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, the architect of the program, needed to find funding.
Valenzuela, a lifelong resident Phoenix and product of public schooling, remembers bouncing around 13 different schools throughout his childhood.
“It was really difficult to keep up in school. That stays with you forever,” Valenzuela said. “It’s really important to us and to me that we offer education that’s accessible, equitable and free.”
The codePHX program features classes in coding, robotics and 3D modeling, which 25 percent of American schools don’t offer.
As the tech sector continues to grow, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 2 million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs will need to be filled by 2024. Which means, cities with skilled workers will be a magnet for tech companies.
“Now, every job in America is a tech job,” Valenzuela said. “The number one selling point to these tech companies is a skilled workforce. We don’t want anyone from Phoenix to have move away in order to chase their dream job.”
So far, codePHX has taught over 1200 students at 13 locations, which includes Cesar Chavez Library and, when it’s reopened, Burton Barr Central Library.
Valenzuela plans on starting 16 new codePHX locations this year.