There is now more computing power in the phone in the palm of your hand than there was in the space shuttle that took the first man to the moon. That’s an incredible statement when you take a step back and really think about it. Technology is evolving at a blinding pace. What was innovative 6 months ago is now old news. Not only is the technology itself changing, but the knowledge and skillset required to understand and operate in this realm is changing along with it. These are the jobs of the future and it is becoming increasingly more imperative that our younger generations have exposure to this field early and often. It is with this vision that the Computer Science at Southern California (CS@SC) summer camps were founded.

The CS@SC Summer Camps were founded in 2015 by The Institute for Education (IFE) in partnership with Prof. Jeffrey Miller of the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC. Now, at the conclusion of its third summer, the camp has educated over 1,300 students (600 in 2017) in computer science languages such as Scratch, Java, and Python.

The camp focuses on attracting females, under-represented ethnicities, and low-income families, all of which have disproportionately low numbers in the STEM fields. This is where the camp truly shines:

  • 75% of the students who attended qualified for free or reduced meals at their schools (which assumes under $40k annual family income)
  • Over 80% of the students who attended were minorities (Hispanic, African American, or Native American)
  • 45% of the students who attended were girls

The last metric above, a 45% representation of females, is an area that we, at both IFE and CS@SC, are particularly proud of. The underrepresentation of females in the tech world has been a hot topic in recent months, gaining nationwide coverage. Many females decide to leave the computer science world behind at an early age and we are focusing our efforts to STEM that outflow (pun intended). By focusing on early exposure and learning, we hope to see this trend reversed in the coming years and CS@SC intends to lead the charge.

We believe that there are future leaders and innovators in every neighborhood, of each gender, and from every ethnicity. The CS@SC Camp provides a vessel for kids to follow their passion and help ensure the opportunity to learn computer science is available to any child with a desire to pursue it. Over $365k has been raised to support this effort and, thanks to our generous sponsors and founders, we will continue to build on this success to develop and empower the leaders of tomorrow.