In January 2017, the Southwestern Oregon Workforce Investment Board launched its first Girls Who Code (GWC) clubs in the Coos Bay/North Bend area. In case you haven’t heard of GWC, Girls Who Code is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to alleviate the massive gender gap in the computer science industry by providing 6th to 12th grade girls with opportunities to engage in computer science. One of the ways that GWC does this is through the creation of GWC clubs. GWC clubs are a fun, safe and friendly environment for teen girls to immerse themselves in computer science applications. Each group is led through the computer science curriculum by a group facilitator, who helps participants with questions that they have and also works to build cohesiveness between club members. To bring this program to the local area, SOWIB applied for several grants in order to start the clubs in the Coos and Curry county areas. So far, SOWIB Youth Liaison Cayce Hill has raised a total of $9,250 in grant funds from the Jordan Cove Energy Project, Walmart and Umpqua Bank.
This year, SOWIB started three GWC clubs in its service area. The largest club was run in SOWIB headquarters, and has had a consistent attendance of about 20 girls from the Coos Bay and North Bend Area. SOWIB also partnered with AmeriCorps Vista Jennifer Duever in order to bring the program to the local Boys and Girls Club as well. SOWIB also started a club in Gold Beach out of the Curry Public Library. In order to show participants the kind of work that this field of study can take them, SOWIB has partnered with several community members who work in this field or have done so in the past. The most notable of these guests was Coos Bay School District board chair Adrian DeLeon. DeLeon has worked in the computer science industry for years before his involvement with the Coos Bay School District. Currently, DeLeon runs several robotics clubs in the local area, and has brought in the robots that his clubs use in competitions for participants to have a hands-on learning experience with computer programming.
With the academic school year coming to an end, all three GWC clubs will take a recess as well. In the fall, SOWIB will have 3 clubs in Coos Bay, Gold Beach and Roseburg. In the case that participants want to continue their learning experience through the summer, SOWIB will be offering to pay for Codesters lessons for those wishing to take them through the summer.