Not your mother’s summer camp: Startup smarts with a side of coding

June 11, 2014  |  0 comments

By Stephanie Alvarado

Knight Foundation supports the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to prepare students from low-income communities for today’s technology landscape. Below, Stephanie Alvarado, NFTE’s development associate, gives a snapshot of NFTE alumni’s first day of GenTech, a summer camp to help students launch their tech-based business while learning to code.

We kicked off our inaugural GenTech Summer Camp on Monday by asking our alumni “where are you with your vision and business?” By asking our budding entrepreneurs to reflect on their accomplishments, obstacles and futures, Camp Instructor Ray Parris helped the students set up goals for this 10-day business accelerator. The camp, made possible by the generous support of Microsoft, is an opportunity for NFTE alumni to work with experienced entrepreneurs and experts in creating apps and websites and even launching their business.

GenTech is a partnership of three organizations: the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and Code Fever, with The LAB Miami in Wynwood serving as host. Topics include ideation, creating wireframes, coding, marketing and branding, and legal aspects of starting and running a business. Most importantly, students develop their first professional network as part of the camp, a perfect example of what is possible when we find common ground to build on.

Even on the first day, our students were more productive than most of their peers who are in the brain drain of summer break. They toured The LAB Miami and talked with co-founder Wifredo Fernandez about his passion for both education and entrepreneurship. Alejandro Blanco of Design Red, an IT company for specialized small business needs, stopped by during lunch and talked with the students about his entrepreneurial evolution and the lessons he’s learned during his career in information technology.

Later in the afternoon, Felecia Hatcher of Code Fever took the floor and showed all of our students that coding is not intimidating. The students spent the first hour of their coding session working as a group to change the layout of the Netflix website using Inspector. By using a simple tool such as Inspector, they learned that the best way to learn coding is to understand it as a language that is logical rather than an intense kind of math equation. 

After only an hour, one of our most apprehensive students, Ashley Fleury from Homestead, said that “coding is actually really interesting [and] doesn’t seem as hard as [I] thought it was. We cannot wait for what the rest of the next two weeks is going to bring.” 

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