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Syenite.

Thanks to Boston’s fine mass transit system, I’d arrived late, and I was a bit unsure of where to sit, or what to do. I was standing awkwardly in the doorway when Vonds came over, welcomed me, and introduced me to a few of the students. Then he asked if I could look at something he was working on, and if I knew JavaScript; I said I could probably muddle my way through a client-side problem.

So we looked at the code for his project, a calculator written in JavaScript, and we talked through the issues he’d encountered, and we discussed ways to debug them. After we got things working, we got to talking, Vonds and me, about a fair few things. We chatted about his art, his activism, and how he got involved in the tech industry. We chatted about podcasts, and our favorite books. I saw some Octavia Butler on his desk, and said I hadn’t read as much of her work as I would’ve liked; he lent me his copy of Parable of the Sower on the spot. I asked him if he’d read any Jemisin—he hadn’t—so I brought a copy of The Fifth Season to my next session.

And of course, we chatted a bit more about his calculator, which was a project for Resilient Coders, a Boston-based non-profit. Vonds and his fellow students had enrolled in their intensive 14-week bootcamp, which aims to

take a small cohort of young people of color, without college degrees, and teach them to be Javascript developers, so that they may have access to a real high-growth career building software. It’s not IT, or networking. It’s engineering.

In other words, Resilient Coders is teaching people of color in Boston to become engineers—and then, at the end of each bootcamp, working to secure them jobs in the tech industry.

I only learned about Resilient Coders a month or so ago. So right now, all I can say is that I’ve attended three of their Community Hours sessions, in which working web professionals can volunteer time to help students work through a bit of code, to brainstorm some product ideas, or to think through some UX issues. And after each session, I’ve left more impressed than the session before it. Each student I’ve met with has been incredibly thoughtful and passionate about the work they’re doing, whether they’re building a chat app, or designing an ecommerce site for local artists. It’s been hard not to spend time with these students without feeling energized about my own work.

If you’re in Boston and you’d like to support Resilient Coders, you can volunteer at a Community Hours session. Even better, if your company’s in a position to hire a Resilient Coders graduate, you should get in touch. (And hey, their students have a demo day coming up.) If neither of those options appeal, you can donate to support the program—from what I can tell based on my brief time there, your money’ll go to very good use, and an even better cause.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a really good book to read.


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