Dwight Hall at Yale’s Social Innovation Lab (SIL) partners with New Haven community members and Yale students to develop ideas into community projects and to refine organizational strategies for exisiting nonprofit organizations. Founded in 2016, the incubator offers resources for project design, consultation advice, and a space to discuss ideas in support of its wider mission of creating a positive social impact. This year, SIL works closely with five New Haven community members and three Yale students.
SIL guided Trustin Henderson (YC ‘21) and Alicia Kacharia (YC ‘21) through CodeSouth’s development process. CodeSouth is a week-long introduction to Computer Science (CS) that exposes students from low-income populations in Mississippi. Its aim is to address the lack of awareness of CS as an area of interest and aims to introduce software engineering as a potential career path to low-income districts in the South.
Dwight Hall asked Alicia Kacharia, co-founder of CodeSouth, several questions about its inaugural program which begins on March 18th, during Spring Break.
|Alicia Kacharia (YC ‘21) and Trustin Henderson (YC’ 21) are co-founders of CodeSouth.|
What is CodeSouth and what inspired it?
“CodeSouth is a nonprofit organization that promotes greater access to computer science education for students from rural and underserved K-12 in the South. Trustin is actually from Mississippi, so he originally noticed the lack of opportunities provided to these students. He also noticed this pressing need for computer science education.
Why Computer Science in Mississippi?
“We actually analyzed exactly where Mississippi spends its computer science education funds and realized that many districts, most of which tended to be majority African-American districts, were severely underrepresented in the CS education expansion path that Mississippi has undertaken over the last three years. Therefore, we decided to introduce computer science to these students who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to the subject by integrating it into the students’ regular school day by having college volunteers teach in the schools.”
How has the Social Innovation Lab supported you in developing CodeSouth? Which resources have you used and how has it been beneficial?
“The Social Innovation Lab (SIL) has provided us with an extraordinary amount of support and guidance as we went through the process of structuring of our program. Many of the people in the lab are New Haven residents and (especially the parents) had important feedback to provide as we discussed the potential ways we could implement our program. Dr. Taylor, who is the Associate Director for Social Innovation at Dwight Hall, as well as a few TSAI-City mentors in residence actually were the ones who encouraged us to pilot this spring.”
Has CodeSouth participated and partnered with the New Haven community?
“The people that we’ve met through the SIL, a majority of whom are New Haven residents, truly helped us shape the program with their suggestions and feedback for not just the launch itself, but also for our long term goals. For instance, one community member brought up the idea that this program would really only be the most effective if we could not only build up the students’ interest in CS, but also ensure that the Southern tech companies would hire them. This made us push additions to our long term goals and plan to reach out to these Southern companies to create high school internships as well.”
Do you have an estimated time of launch?
“We are launching in less than a week! Beginning March 18th, we will begin integrating a CS curriculum into the regular school day of a southeastern Mississippi high school and show 100+ 9th graders the exciting world of technology!”
Who else is on the CodeSouth team?
“We’ve just added two additional people to our team, Keduse Worku, a Yale sophomore studying physics, and Alton Stovall, a computer engineering sophomore from Georgia Tech. StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, has generously funded our entire launch event, and we’re so excited to be working with them to fulfill our mission.”
Social Innovation Lab (SIL) is a program at Dwight Hall. For more information, click on the link here. SIL meets every Tuesday from 6-7 pm in Dwight Hall.
By Isaiah Ahn, Communications Graduate Assistant (DIV ‘21)