Contact: MK Communications
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For the past six weeks in Pullman, Bridgeview, Archer Heights, Rogers Park, and everywhere in between – at home, online, in classrooms and communities – young Chicagoans of all ages were learning to code. Their simultaneous plunge into computer science came in response to the first-ever (and anywhere) Code60+ Challenge, created and issued by the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Chicago City of Learning (CCOL). Built upon the global Hour of Code, the campaign has brought Chicago into the limelight for digital and connected learning once again.

With nearly 20,000 hours of coding completed in 53 zip codes and 290 schools, it is evident that youth are eager to learn inside, as well as outside, the classroom. Their own initiative, as well as an outpouring of support from caring adults at schools, community centers, city agencies and other youth-serving organizations, led our young people to unlock the fun and possibilities computer science holds.

“This six week campaign is like nothing any city has done before, and we will continue to push the envelope when it comes to the connected learning opportunities youth have access to regardless of what neighborhood they live in,” said Sybil Madison-Boyd, Ph.D. at Digital Youth Network, which runs CCOL. “Thanks to this city wide collaboration, more than 11,000 youth chose to expand their coding vocabulary over the last few weeks, and as a citywide classroom, we will continue to ensure these opportunities are available to the eager minds of our young people.”

This inaugural coding campaign offered opportunities for everyone in the city including parents who were directly involved with CPS Parent University events at four CPS sites offering face-to-face classes, online challenges, and learning opportunities for the entire family. In addition, CCOL deployed the DYN Design Lab, a mobile lab that brings code on the road to “learning deserts” lacking the necessary resources for 21st century skill development. The lab visited six schools in as many weeks, facilitated 38 Coding/Making Workshops and served 763 students who each earned a Code60+ digital badge.

The Chicago Housing Authority, another partner in the Code60+ campaign, connected all nine of their Digital Resource Centers to the campaign’s free online coding challenges, and today Eugene Jones Jr., CHA CEO, awarded three CHA coders with iPad Minis for their coding accomplishments.

"I had a lot of fun playing Minecraft. I had never played before and I definitely want to do more,” said 15-year-old iPad winner Andre Spiller. “I think my dad’s proud of me because I'm trying hard and getting my work done. I want to be a role model for my younger brother."

Launched December 5th, this campaign began as a part of Computer Science Education Week, where millions of students from more than 180 countries learn the basics of coding. This year in Chicago, Code60+ provided five additional weeks of coding opportunity that connected nearly 14,000 local youth to coding opportunities. The campaign utilized a common Code60+ digital badge, issued through Chicago City of Learning, and powered by CPS’ Office of Leadership and Learning, CPS Connects and CS4All, to capture the nearly 20,000 hours of code completed by over 11,000 Chicago youth and families during the campaign. As badges were earned, a dynamic city map tracked the location and volume of hours completed across the city.

Code60+ builds on Mayor Emanuel’s strategy and commitment to increasing student access to 21st-century STEM education. In 2013, Mayor Emanuel and CPS launched the Computer Science 4 All (CS4All) initiative to provide K-12 students with high-quality computer science instruction, paving the way for CPS to become the first district in the nation to establish computer science as a high school graduation requirement. Participating in coding as a requirement gives students a competitive advantage in computing skills, which accounts for 71 percent of all new STEM jobs.

By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs available in computing related fields, and the Code 60+ Challenge is a gateway for today’s youth to discover their passion for promising careers in the future.

Organizations offering all Chicagoans the opportunity to get a head start on programming skills include: Microsoft, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Public Library, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago Academy of Science’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, After School Matters, Digital Youth Network at DePaul University, NEIU’s Center for College Access and Success, CodeCreate, Project Exploration, Erie House, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust, Near West Side CDC, Kids STEM Studio, Code Play Learn, The Laboratory Chicago, Chicago Public School’s CS4ALL and the Office of Leadership & Learning, CPS Parent University, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Chicago Lights, Access Community Health Network, Power Up Tech Academy, Girls Who Code, among others.


About CPS:
Chicago Public Schools serves 381,000 students in 652 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district with 164 schools currently a part of the Computer Science for All (CS4All) initiative. CS4All is an innovative Computer Science education program that provides equity, empowerment, and opportunities that maximize the innate potential of every student to transform and advance their community, nation, and world.

About CCOL:
Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) is led by the City of Chicago and Digital Youth Network at DePaul University; it continues to be supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and is sponsored by Best Buy. CCOL is a groundbreaking initiative that joins together learning opportunities for young people in a way that allows them to think about, pursue, and develop their interests beyond the classroom and among the city's rich resources.

(ABOVE) Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones Jr. recognizes (l-r) Mykiara Hodges, Andre Spiller and Ranzell Sorrells for their accomplishments at CHA’s Digital Resource Centers during the Code60+ Challenge, which was issued by the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and Chicago City of Learning. 


(BELOW) Students break down the mechanics of circuitry during a Code60+ Coding/Making Workshop offered by Chicago City of Learning’s DYN Design Lab.