South San Francisco kids could code their way out of poverty

- Children in South San Francisco's Boys & Girls Clubs could potentially write their way out of poverty and into high tech careers with a special coding class put on by Google, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers, and the Boys & Girls Club.

Instead of playing video games after school, the children design their own. The Google CS First program curriculum progresses from animation to social media platform designs.

It's a computer science course, most of the students aged 9 to 14 don't see at school.

"I enjoy coding more than school to be honest," said 8th grader Sarah Huang.

The Google Coding Corps started as a summer camp at the San Mateo County Boys & Girls Club. 120 students attended the classes taught by AmeriCorps volunteers, who added a special week-long intensive coding class to expand on the interest in coding.

"X is negative 26," Huang said plugging in code for her animated rain to move down the screen. "By the time they get to 5th grade, 6th grade, they're learning X Y coordinates, they're a little bit ahead of the curve for math," said AmeriCorps volunteer Mike Tecson.

The program is now expanding to two more sites in South San Francisco: the Boys & Girls Club of Paradise Valley and Sunshine Gardens.

"A computer science graduate earns 40 percent more than a regular college graduate, so we're trying to give kids the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty," said AmeriCorps volunteer Preston Chan.

In Silicon Valley, men currently dominate the tech industry, but in the Google Coding Corps, girls make up 40 percent of the coding classes and the number is growing.

"I recommend girls do it [coding] more," said Huang.

"If it's just boys, then it's not fun anymore."

The classes are free to Boys & Girls members and are running twice a week or more depending on interest.

The AmeriCorps volunteers set up a gofundme to raise funds for 20 Chromebooks to use in the expanding classes.

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