In Newark, Apple Education Program Helps Local Youth Explore Tech Skills, Career Pathways

The program at Rutgers-Newark is part of Apple’s Community Education Initiative, where the company provided the school with hardware, scholarship opportunities, and professional learning and support for the camp. In addition, students learned technical skills and were encouraged to envision how their projects can solve problems and connect communities.

Hamza Waziri, a junior at Science Park High School in Newark, worked with code camp classmates on an app that is aimed to help people find resources at local food pantries.

“This allows us to do something for ourselves and the people around us,’’ said Hamza. “Technology is the future, and learning how to code is really important, especially for the jobs that are going to be there when I get out of school... It’s important for me to learn these concepts now before I get older.’’

Lori Johnson, a senior at East Orange Campus High School, said the education initiative had a profound impact on her learning experience. 

“It was great to see that there were not just women, but women of color," Lori said. "It helped me feel like I’m not just going out into the world by myself."

The camp, she said, provided her with valuable skills in coding that she can apply in her future career.

“It makes sense to have that skill in my back pocket,’’ she said. “If I were to design an app myself, I would have that knowledge.”

The coding camp becomes a valuable resource to a minority-majority urban community like Newark where many students are often shut out from attaining an education or career in tech.

By investing in STEM-focused resources for urban schools like Dr. William H. Horton Elementary, the initiative could help address the issue of people of color being shut out from job opportunities in the tech industry.

In 2020, TrustRadius, a business-to-business review platform, surveyed employees at both tech providers and IT organizations to review the status of people of color in the tech industry. The report found that of 1,207 respondents (53% of whom identified as people of color), only 6.8% of computing and math-related jobs are held by Black and Latinx people.

By equipping local institutions like Rutgers-Newark with these types of learning initiatives, officials are providing an opportunity to Newark youth to emerge as the next leaders in the tech industry.

“It’s very important at the current moment we’re in,” said Tino Koumapley, a computer science major and class instructor at Rutgers-Newark. "You can use it to do so many things. You can build games and applications, you can solve problems with coding. You can go into software engineering, you could be a project manager, work in data science, cyber security. There are so many different roads to take.”

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-08-25 02:56:20 -0700