By Elizabeth Keith
Ladies Learning Code is no more.
On Oct. 27, the non-profit formerly known as Ladies Learning Code officially rebranded as Canada Learning Code, in an effort to reach more Canadians with its programs.
“For us diversity wasn’t just gender, we really wanted to provide our program for all Canadians,” Melissa Sariffodeen, co-founder and CEO of Canada Learning Code, which first announced that it would be changing its name last year, told ITBusiness.ca.
Sariffodeen said that while Canada Learning Code’s roots are still focused on teaching women to code, since its founding in 2011 the organization’s overall mission has evolved to also encompass other underrepresented groups such as indigenous communities, newcomers, and those that may be socio-economically disadvantaged.
“We are envisioning a country where all Canadians have the ability to harness the power of technology,” she told ITBusiness.ca.
As part of the rebranding, the organization has announced that it hopes to reach 10 million Canadians in the next decade. Sariffodeen admits the goal is ambitious but feels optimistic about the future.
“It won’t be easy, but we see a clear path there,” she says.
Sariffodeen believes the key to Canada Learning Code reaching its goal is transforming Canada’s education system, by integrating coding into classes and school programs across the country.
“I think it is critical if we are going to have the representation that we want,” she says.
Not only would changing the Canadian curriculum teach digital skills to Canadian youth, it would make Canada Learning Code’s programs accessible to groups who may not otherwise be able to participate as an extracurricular activity.
As a program, Ladies Learning Code will remain, but the organization’s other programs, such as Kids Learning Code, Teens Learning Code, and Teachers Learning Code, will have equal weight. Rather than introducing more programs for groups such as newcomers or parents, Sariffodeen says, the organization is taking a more unified approach in the hopes of reaching all Canadians.
Other goals of Canada Learning Code include preparing youth to not only work in jobs in the tech industry, but to create them.
“We’ve always been big believers in the power of building technology, not just consuming technology,” she says.
Sariffodeen says she has seen people develop these skills, and used them to harness the power of technology and the future.
After experiencing one of Canada Learning Code’s programs, “technology, and the future of technology, and the future of work aren’t something that people fear,” she says.
Over the next 10 years, other goals of Canada Learning Code will include diversifying the tech industry, ensuring access for underserviced groups, creating skilled workers, and promoting government innovation.
A tall order, perhaps, but Sariffodeen remains confident these goals can be accomplished – along with the organization’s aim to reach 10 million Canadians.
So far, Canada Learning Code has served over 82,000 learners, and the numbers attending its programs this year are already double those of the last year, she says.
“Our plan is that our growth will continue to be exponential into the future as well” Sariffodeen says.
Elizabeth is a recent graduate of Carleton University’s journalism program. She enjoys music, baking, and spends way too much time on social media.