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Come Jan. 20, 2018, 20 middle school students from Sussex Avenue Renew School in Newark will begin a free program to learn basic coding language and hear from guest speakers about coding careers. The initiative, called Newark Kids Code, is a pilot partnership between New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Urban League of Essex County.

The program also is a joint venture within the NJIT community, calling upon the resources of the Center for Pre-College Programs (CPCP), Ying Wu College of Computing (YWCC) and Albert Dorman Honors College. CPCP is coordinating the program, YWCC faculty is adapting the coding curriculum in conjunction with Sussex Avenue Renew administrators, and Honors College students are volunteering to teach the curriculum to the Sussex Avenue Renew students.

“This initiative is designed to give middle school students an opportunity to explore the world of coding with or without prior knowledge and skills,” said Jacqueline Cusack, Ed.D., CPCP’s executive director. “Students will be engaged in building a web page about themselves and designing a video game and music video, as well as learning how to use the internet and related tools in responsible ways.”

Newark Kids Code participants were selected by Sussex Avenue Renew School, and will meet at the school on nine Saturdays this year. The partnership’s plan is to roll out the program to other schools simultaneously, pending outcomes from the pilot effort.

“As the world races through the 21st century, it is important that our youth develop the problem-solving and computational thinking skills that will enable them to compete for their place in the future,” said Vivian Cox Fraser, president and CEO, Urban League of Essex County. “Newark Kids Code is designed to introduce technologically underrepresented youth to the exciting world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics through coding. We are thrilled to partner with New Jersey Institute of Technology and Sussex Avenue Renew School to provide Newark’s future with this opportunity.” 

One of only 32 polytechnic universities in the United States, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT’s multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. NJIT is rated an "R1" research university by the Carnegie Classification®, which indicates the highest level of research activity. NJIT conducts approximately $162 million in research activity each year and has a $2.8 billion annual economic impact on the State of New Jersey. NJIT is ranked #1 nationally by Forbes for the upward economic mobility of its lowest-income students and is among the top 2 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT also is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top 50 public national universities.