Coding For Our Future

new partnership aims to train Chippewa Valley kids computer programming

Scott Morfitt, photos by Andrea Paulseth

BUILDING THE ROAD TO CODE. Garrett Denney of WIN, left, and Ben Stroinski of Satellite Six are two of the local tech-industry professionals who are on the board of the newly formed Evercode Foundation, which aims to increase computer science education among young people in the Chippewa Valley.
BUILDING THE ROAD TO CODE. Garrett Denney of WIN, left, and Ben Stroinski of Satellite Six are two of the local tech-industry professionals who are on the board of the newly formed Evercode Foundation, which aims to increase computer science education among young people in the Chippewa Valley.

The Evercode Foundation is one of those team efforts that could be transformative for this community. This is because it’s simultaneously educational and collaborative, while being focused on building the creative workforce many of us know is integral to building a better Chippewa Valley.

This June, Evercode – a recently formed nonprofit group – is launching a coding academy targeted at local youth in sixth through ninth grades.

“I think it goes to show that there are a lot of folks in the Chippewa Valley who are immersed in technology and see the need for something like this. So when we sat down to discuss this, we really rapidly realized this is something we could get off the ground.” – Garrett Denney, Evercode Foundation Board of Directors president, on the new nonprofit, which aims to boost computer science education

Coding is what makes all of our technology work. It’s not just what runs the Internet and smartphones; it’s at the core of almost every piece of technology we use today. It’s literally the language of technology.

What makes Evercode work is its unique partnerships between many key players in the Chippewa Valley tech industry:

• WIN: Also known as Wisconsin Independent Network, WIN is a fiber optic company whose niche is building vital computer networks for smaller communities in rural areas.

• Satellite Six: A web design and marketing agency focused on branding businesses. They help clients use technology to communicate with the public.

• JAMF: The largest Mac networking company in the world, with a new product focused on building interconnected classrooms affordably.

• UW-Eau Claire: With its Blugold Beginnings program, the university has focused on educating and inspiring students – especially underrepresented students – on how seeking a secondary education is within their grasp.

Evercode Foundation Board of Directors President Garrett Denney feels that this program is uniquely poised to build up the future of this community.

“I think it goes to show that there are a lot of folks in the Chippewa Valley who are immersed in technology and see the need for something like this,” Denney said. “So when we sat down to discuss this, we really rapidly realized this is something we could get off the ground.”

“This overnight camp will take place at UW-Eau Claire,” Denney continued. “So students can stay in the dorms and really get into the experience what that is like. They will get to tour all our companies and see what the professional world is like. We’re really jacked about this and think it will be great to give students that exposure.”

One of the great things about the camp is its focus on teaching a truly diverse group of students, especially considering the tech industry has recently come under fire for being a widely male-dominated industry.

“Something that is racking the technology sector as a whole nationwide is bringing balance and diversity to this industry. We are fortunate to be partnered with UW-Eau Claire because of who they reach through their Blugold Beginnings program,” Denney said. “We are expecting a majority – 60 percent – of our program to be girls. That is hugely important to us.”

“We envision this as a feeder program. Step 1 is to engage kids in K-12 education,” Denney continued. “Step 2 is to get them into a great program at UW-Eau Claire. And, step 3 is local businesses recruit the best coming out of UW-Eau Claire, preventing that brain-drain we see to Minneapolis (and) Chicago.”

This program comes at the same time that President Barack Obama is rolling out his TechHire initiative aimed at building a stronger technology workforce across the nation. The president has focused on this not only because of the need to employ more people but also because of the necessity of filling hundreds of thousands of open technology jobs nationwide.

Denney realizes that something of this scale is a team effort and he realizes that this team still needs more players. He says, “The biggest thing for us going forward is we need folks to step up and help. If you have skills in HTML, CSS, and other languages let us know we would love to have you on the team.”

If you are interested in either joining the training team or have a student interested in the Evercode Foundation’s summer program, check out evercode.org.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.