Looking Back:
Two Year Impact Letter from Code Nation CEO, Rebecca Novak

We believe that teaching young people to code is just the first of many steps to prepare them for careers in technology.”

Dear Friends,

As I wrap up my time at Code Nation, I am overcome with pride about the work that we accomplished and immense gratitude for our steadfast supporters — folks just like you. I was the first hire in the fall of 2013, and we were a small group of people with a big idea about how to pave more equitable pathways to careers in tech. Each year since, we learned countless lessons, reaffirmed our commitment to the mission, and grew our vibrant community of teachers, students, tech workers, and philanthropists.

The past two years were some of the most unique and challenging. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this time and what we gained from the many pivots and shifts that our organization had to make. I’ve also been thinking more broadly about our world; how we can push our collective consciousness to solve our vast social inequities and how each of us can continue to strive for lives of purpose. I see this commitment in our Code Nation staff and Board of Directors who inspired me with their resilience and innovation during a time when we needed it most.

Students gather in person in Chicago safely

In the 2020-2021 school year, Code Nation adapted and evolved to a new reality: an ongoing global pandemic, and longstanding racial and social injustices that were magnified and compounded by the global health crisis. We witnessed the impact of this trauma most acutely on our students and their families; we knew our commitment was more important than ever.

In 2021-2022, we doubled-down on how to navigate hybrid learning and work, during yet another unusual and disrupted school year. We stayed flexible and adaptive, with student impact as our north star. Like most schools and K-12 organizations, we faced lower than expected fall enrollments and volunteer sign-ups, challenging operational considerations due to COVID-19 protocols. It’s been a complex environment and a powerful example of what’s possible.

Bay area staff and volunteers meet online

Over the last two years, we innovated our programming and have continued to prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. We were nimble and thoughtful about how to provide impactful learning opportunities and create community. And I’d say we prevailed — everyone stepped up to the plate and we drove impact in a variety of ways:

Serving students
  • In two years, we provided 161 programs for more than 2,600 students. 76% identify as Latinx or Black and 44% identify as women or non-binary.
  • We expanded within our three regions: the Bay Area launched programming in San Jose; we now serve students in all five boroughs of NYC; and in Chicago from our first year to our third year, we grew by more than 160%.
  • 79% of students at the end of last year and 76% of students mid-year this year report that Code Nation made them more confident in their coding skills.
  • For students in their second or third program with Code Nation, an average of 78% of them over the 2020-2021 school year and the first half of the 2021-2022 school year report they plan to go into a career that uses coding skills.
Support for alumni
  • We formed a Code National Alumni Council to help us shape our ideas and identify priorities where we can make the biggest impact for our alumni.
  • We created the Career Launch Intensive designed to prepare alumni to successfully interview and land a role in the tech industry. This year we had a total of 26 alums participate in our fall and spring cohorts. Five alums are now in full-time positions, three more have received offers, 13 others are actively seeking employment, and two are still in school.
  • In early May, Code Nation hosted an in-person event in NYC for Code Nation alums, current students in our Fellowship classes, and volunteers. The event included a panel discussion that offered advice and practical tips for those seeking employment in the tech sector and a structured networking activity to help our alums and current students build the social capital we know is so important for securing future employment.
Representation from the tech community
  • 589 dedicated volunteers from 221 companies
  • 47 company partners who recognize the role that they play in diversifying the tech sector

We believe that teaching young people to code is just the first of many steps to prepare them for careers in technology. We reckoned with privilege and talked a lot about what it means to be an anti-racist, pro-Black, inclusive organization — and, in turn, how we show up for our students. To find a job and work in the industry requires our students to have connections, social capital, and a sense of belonging. At Code Nation, we foster a community that acknowledges the lack of diversity in the tech industry and that simultaneously affirms to our students that they belong in the tech sector. This led to developing affinity groups for students and alumni so they can build connections with likeminded people, expand their networks, and feel supported with a safe space during their journeys toward tech careers.

The impact of this community is seen in our incredible alumni. Kiara is a Code Nation alum who will soon start her career at LaunchDarkly — a Code Nation partner. Launch Darkly’s CTO & Co-Founder John Kodumal is on our Bay Area Leadership Council. Kiara shared with us recently:

“Throughout my experience in Computer Science, I have felt imposter syndrome with constantly thinking that I could not be a software engineer. I had various moments in my college career where I wanted to give up but would think back to my Code Nation fellowship and the differences between the real world and these college courses. I still keep in contact with one of my managers from the fellowship who has helped me throughout the process of applying to internships, conducting mock interviews, and even practicing negotiating salaries for my full-time position.”

Kiara Correa Acosta
incoming software engineer, LaunchDarkly

These two years have prepared us for the future. Looking to 2022-2023, we see the opportunity to apply all of our learnings to strengthen and refine student experiences and outcomes. We also know the work must continue after students graduate high school, which is why we aim to expand and enhance our alumni engagement work.

Additionally, we’re in the midst of selecting our next CEO. We are enthused by the opportunity to identify fresh energy and vision to join our talented leadership team, staff, and community to lead Code Nation into our second decade.

My last day is June 1. Your support has left a mark on my heart and I am truly so grateful — please do stay in touch. And please continue the good fight alongside Code Nation and this extraordinary community. There’s much to be excited for and to accomplish in the years ahead!


Becca Novak

Code Nation CEO

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