With the help of the Catalyze Challenge grant funding, the Launchpad team has had the opportunity to pilot several components of our intended programming with a group of 10th and 11th grade students at Building 21 Philadelphia. Beginning in February, 14 students opted to participate in an after school program that was created in partnership with ASU (Arizona State University) to meet the following goals:
- Offer an opportunity for participating students to earn college credit and financial incentives for participation and successful completion of the ASU course.
- Identify best practices and areas of improvement for the ASU partnership to ensure that at least 80% of future Launchpad participants can successfully pass their dual enrollment classes.
- Pilot sample LaunchPad experiences including the modules in the LaunchCode Discovery Course and the LaunchCode HackerRank test.
Luigi Loeun, a 10th grade student at Building 21 Philadelphia, is one of the many students enrolled in this course. When asked why he was interested in the after school program, he shared, “it was the opportunity to get college credits while being in high school. I’ve never taken a college class before.” Students are taking Identity, Service, and American Democracy through ASU’s online program. In this course, students like Luigi are learning about civic engagement and how people shape the world. They are gaining insight into how to become active and engaged members of their community. They will interview public service leaders, investigate local issues, and form the what, why, and how of civic engagement, which they will use to create a civic action portfolio. Luigi shares, “I also said yes because of the money that we can earn for meeting the goals of the after school program. It has a lot of benefits.”
The Catalyze Challenge funding allowed us to compensate students up to $500 for successful engagement in the after school program. Students aren’t just taking a college class, they are helping to inform critical programming elements that we will use to design the first two years of the Launchpad curriculum.
When asked about his experience in the IT discovery course, Luigi talked about how much he realized that programming and coding is just like a “puzzle that you put together pieces to show the big picture.” The feedback from students about how best to expose young people to the fundamentals of programming and careers in the IT sector has been invaluable. Building21 students are essentially part-time curriculum designers as they are using their own experiences to help us shape the future of Launchpad. And, as Luigi said, the money is a great motivator along with all the other benefits students get from participating. The Catalyze Challenge funding is helping students get things they want and need and for students like Luigi, helping out family as he gave half of his first stipend to his mom.
We are excited to continue the Civic Engagement class, which is scheduled to wrap up in May. Luigi is most excited about “working together with my classmates in the course and seeing their abilities as a group. I’m excited about digging deeper into our society and thinking critically about a community issue that I am most passionate about for my civic action portfolio.”