Tech rock stars in the making

December 19, 2013  |  11 comments

Knight Foundation supports the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to use technology to prepare students from low-income communities for today’s tech landscape. Below, Alice Horn, executive director of NFTE South Florida, writes about a national initiative to teach teens to code.

By Alice Horn

“Great coders ARE today’s rock stars”

Many students’ only aspiration for success before enrolling in our programming is the dream to become a celebrity or professional sports player. However we all know that those goals, while exciting, are not a realistic option for most. The goal of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is to inspire these students to think about their future in a different way.

Most recently, as part of the Digital Classroom, NFTE teachers implemented the Hour of Code, a national initiative to give every student the chance to try computer science for one hour as part of Computer Science Education Week. This initiative, supported by everyone from President Obama to Shakira to Bill Gates, champions the message that coding will be a critical skill to have in the future job market.

With support from Knight Foundation, we launched the Digital Classroom initiative in October to address this current skills gap. Students enrolled in a NFTE digital class participate in virtual mentoring, connect with coaches via Edmodo, and now, even write code. We are integrating the Hour of Code curriculum into our existing platform for teaching entrepreneurship online. Specifically, mentors have coached students via videoconference while other students in classrooms miles away observe. 

For example, in the video above, Johnny, a senior from Homestead Senior High School created a greeting card on Scratch, the platform used in Hour of Code. As he worked, our staff coached him while the activity beamed to a classroom of ninth-graders at Miami Edison Senior High School. Perhaps the most compelling component of this type of experience is the support the students provide each other. As he worked, Johnny gave the following advice to his fellow future coders: “I’m not saying it’s really simple, but if you’re passionate about it, it’s possible. You just have to be motivated to do it.”

With advice like that and the tech skills to match, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship students will no longer be limited to ambitions of being sports players and movie stars. They will be able to recognize opportunities to design a realistic vision of success.


To learn more about NFTE South Florida, email us at

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