As Solid Ground’s residential children’s teams meet the challenge of engaging students during school closures and a summer of social distancing due to the ongoing pandemic, we had the incredible support of a new partner – Geeking Out Kids of Color (GOKiC)!
In their own words, GOKiC began locally in 2016 when a group of friends saw an opportunity to strengthen their communities and make an impact on children’s lives. A diverse group of developers, they love what they do and know the importance of technology to facilitate learning and bring people together.
“I think the class was really fun. We learned how to make games while sharing emotions. We got to play games together and I liked the teachers. The only thing I didn’t like about the class is that it wasn’t long enough – I want to do it again!” ~Sand Point Housing youth
Their work empowers kids of color with computer science, programming, and robotics education – helping unlock their creativity through technology intersected with race and gender equity via afterschool enrichment, coding fundamentals, video game development, and more.
GOKiC is led by cofounder and Executive Director Pedro Perez, a critical race theorist, who intersects his technical skills with anti-racist and anti-sexist theory and builds new tech ed curricula for kids. Solid Ground Children’s Program Manager, Charlisse Hammon, connected with GOKiC last year, and we were fortunate to secure funding through a timely opportunity to build out digital literacy through a grant partnership with Verizon.
Over the past few months, Charlisse and the rest of our Residential Children’s team worked closely with GOKiC to develop a four-week virtual coding course series for two age groups at both our Sand Point Housing and Broadview Shelter & Transitional Housing campuses. GOKiC remained responsive throughout the process, pivoting and adapting technology needs to suit what worked best for resident youth, and taking necessary precautions to protect confidentiality and safety for Broadview resident youth, whose families have all survived domestic violence.
In June, GOKiC engaged 19 resident youth in the virtual course in two age-specific groups for elementary and middle/high school-aged youth. During the first week, classes focused on building trust and community, and learning the basic functionalities of the Zoom web platform used for instruction. Youth identified societal issues they wanted to address through coding during the course and spent time engaging in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills, growing more comfortable with technology and troubleshooting, and creating their own virtual worlds through Roblox software.
One of the contributing components to GOKiC’s success is their high instructor-to-student ratio approach, with two-to-three teachers for most groups, and opportunities for more individualized attention and support as needed. One Broadview Children’s Advocate shares, “The children had a wonderful time and really were able to connect with the teachers and learn from them. The skills the children learned are a wonderful foundation in general as they live in an increasingly computer-based world, and in particular as they will transition into virtual school in the fall.”
On the last day of class, each child presented the virtual world they created, and both staff and students had the opportunity to play in and explore each other’s games. “There were many different themes,” the Broadview Children’s Advocate reports. One student created a world called ‘Feelings and Differences,’ with an obstacle course where each color represented a different feeling. Another student created an elaborate amusement park, because she had fond memories of going to amusement parks with her family.
“It was amazing to see what the kids created and to see their pride in their world,” the Children’s Advocate shares. “They overcame barriers and roadblocks to create wonderful worlds.”
One Sand Point Housing youth resident hopes for more GOKiC classes: “I think the class was really fun. We learned how to make games while sharing emotions. We got to play games together and I liked the teachers. The only thing I didn’t like about the class is that it wasn’t long enough – I want to do it again!”
Based on the success of and engagement in this initial class series, our Children’s teams are exploring continued partnership with GOKiC, especially as we’re in the midst of a socially distanced summer and lack typical summer activities such as camps and team sports.
We are so thankful for the leadership, expertise, and social justice lens that GOKiC brought to the class and Solid Ground’s resident youth. Check out the Geeking Out Kids of Color website for more information – and consider supporting their incredible community-building work for Seattle youth!
This post was co-authored by Solid Ground Grant Writer Naomi Natsuhara and Grants Manager Alexandra Weeks. For more information about grants and partnerships with Solid Ground, contact Alexandra at email@example.com or 206.694.6801.