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Expanding on Hour of Code, students, teachers, and parents explore boundless digital learning opportunities this winter as campaign heads into winter break

Chicago students are yet again leading the pack in computer science and digital learning, with nearly 15,000 hours of coding completed by youth in just the last three weeks. As part of the City of Chicago’s Code 60+ Challenge, an unprecedented six-week campaign that builds on the global Hour of Code, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), and Chicago City of Learning (CCOL) have already connected 164 schools, and nearly 8,000 youth from communities across the city to a network of coding opportunities in classrooms, in communities, at home and online that will continue throughout the winter break and through January 13.

“With Code60+ offering a month of computer science activities, we want students and families around the city to know that this winter break doesn’t have to be a break from learning,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago’s students have already logged nearly 15,000 hours of coding in the last three weeks, which is a true testament to the power of Chicago Public Schools’ computer science and STEM programs that are preparing students with the skills to compete and succeed in a 21st century economy.”

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+ takes the Hour of Code a step further - providing five additional weeks of coding opportunity to local youth, and with these opportunities ramping up over the winter break.

The campaign utilizes a common Code60+ digital badge, issued through Chicago City of Learning to capture the nearly 15,000 hours of code already completed by Chicago youth and families over the past few weeks. The campaign is powered by CPS’ Office of Leadership and Learning, CPS Connects, and builds on the district’s cutting-edge CS4All framework. As badges are earned, a dynamic city map is tracking the location and volume of hours being completed across the city.

“We are expanding beyond traditional classrooms by connecting and learning from the interests and achievements of all Chicago’s youth,” said Sybil Madison-Boyd, Ph.D. at Digital Youth Network, which runs CCOL. “The Code 60+ collaboration has brought city and community partners together to create a citywide classroom that ensures all youth have access to 21st century skills regardless of the neighborhood they live in. Youth in 51 zip codes have completed thousands of hours of code through this campaign, and over winter break, we hope to reach the entire city.”


Highlights over the winter holiday for youth include the Chicago Housing Authority’s Digital Resource Centers open to the public and offering free online coding challenges for youth and families at nine separate sites across the city. Youth can also learn to conquer the mechanics of power circuits, switches and power plates to ensure digital survival with Kids Stem Studio; creatively build coding commands that push the limits with Power Up Tech Academy; and families can code together with Parent University at four different schools over the break – Fenger High School, Smyth Elementary, Clemente High School and Spencer Tech Elementary. All of these, in addition to over 80 online coding activities, are opportunities available at, the online hub connecting youth to all online and in-person Code60+ activities throughout the winter break and through January 13.

“In this Year of the Youth at CHA we have worked extensively to expand the opportunities available to our youngest residents,” said Eugene Jones, Jr., CHA CEO. “We have nine wonderful digital resource centers and I can’t think of a better way to end the year than by joining this citywide coding effort that is introducing youth in neighborhoods across the city to valuable 21st century skills. CHA is proud to be a Chicago City of Learning partner as we work to help young people achieve their goals.”

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 are a requisite for more than 70 percent of all new STEM jobs today.

"Computer Science for All in Chicago is proving that the CPS community understands quality and commitment to its 400K students,” said Brenda Wilkerson, CPS CS4All. “Code60+ is yet another example of CPS educators and students raising the bar and building awareness and community around computer science education for our students and their families as well." 

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.



About CPS:

Chicago Public Schools serves 381,000 students in 652 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.   

About CCOL:

Chicago City of Learning 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. 

Organizations offering all Chicagoans the opportunity to get a head start on programming skills include: Chicago City of Learning, 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.