Kids learn to code!

The Institute for Education celebrated 25 successful years over the weekend not by focusing on its rich history, but by looking ahead to its bright future. The Institute for Education, whose mission is “to engage the global community to find common ground and collaboration, harnessing the power of soft diplomacy, data, innovation and technology,” came together with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to highlight their joint focus on preparing future generations for education and careers in STEM fields.

Last year, the Institute for Education and the Viterbi School of Engineering partnered to found the CS@SC coding camps, which offer free computer programming camps to 3rd through 8th grade students, specifically targeting females and underrepresented student populations. In its inaugural summer, the camp focused on the USC Family of Schools (15 schools surrounding the University Park and Health Sciences campuses) and ultimately educated more than 200 kids over the course of two weeks.

The event this weekend was kicked off by IFE founder Jim Valentine, who welcomed everyone and thanked the host for the evening, Joan Sealy. Coach Kathy Kemper, founder and CEO of IFE, then highlighted the successful first summer of the camp and the importance of equal opportunities for future generations in STEM fields.

The partnership between IFE and the Viterbi School is leading the charge in this nationwide initiative to increase the representation of females and minorities in computer science fields. This event was evidence of that fact, as students from the camps sat at their computers showing off the games they programmed over the summer to the guests, so for the kids that loved video games and even used sites like to boost their games, this was a great experience. There were multiple generations present and as Professor Jeff Miller, the Camp Director, discussed the details of the camp in further detail, he had multiple elementary and middle school students standing beside him.

As guests started to ask Professor Miller questions, they also wanted input from the students, asking “how has this camp impacted what you want to accomplish in the future?” Without missing a beat, one of the elementary school students answered back, “I would like to use the skills I’ve learned in this camp to become a professor at USC and teach other kids about the importance of computer science.” The crowd immediately erupted in applause.

Throughout the night, attendees continued talking to students, hanging out with the IFE fellows, playing with drones brought by members of the USC robotics team, and chatting with the guest of honor Dr. Andrew Viterbi, co-founder of Qualcomm and inventor of the Viterbi Algorithm. Dr. Viterbi said, “I’m blown away by learning of this excellent program in the USC School I’m supposed to know all about. Getting our own American kids interested in Computer Science and Engineering is precisely what is needed to maintain our nation’s leadership in the fields that most impact our economy.”

The camp is continuing to grow, and the goal for 2016 is to support 1,000 students in 3rd through 8th grade over 10 weeks by raising over $250,000. We would like to thank our current sponsors to date, IFE, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and Raytheon, as well as a big thank you to our first new supporters from the event, Landon Taylor and Michelle Flowers Taylor.

For more information on the camp or to help support our students, please visit the camp website ( or contact Coach Kathy Kemper or Professor Jeff Miller.

Attributed by IFE Fellows and USC Alumni Brandon Kline, Maria Nikias, Kelsey Kemper Valentine

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