We are Code Your Future Colombia (CYFCO). Our aim is to change the lives of underprivileged people in Colombia by lending our privileges to them. My name is Bram Borggreve and I’m the founder of CYFCO. I’m writing you on behalf of the foundation because I’d like to give you a clear picture of who we are, where we come from and what we strive for. After reading this story, I hope you’ll be just as excited about the project as we are.
What is Code Your Future?
Essentially, Code Your Future is a non-profit coding school for refugees based in the United Kingdom. The students join a program of six months and are mentored by professional developers. The goal is to prepare them to be able to work as a software developer. Take a look at their website, codeyourfuture.io, to find out more about Code Your Future in the United Kingdom.
Coincidentally, I had already been thinking about starting some project here in Medellín and as soon as I heard about CYF, I knew this was the way to go! During a visit to my brother in London, I got the chance to meet the founder Germán Bencci and spoke with him and Carme about the project and to discuss the possibilities to start a branch in Medellín. Germán gave me a lot of advice and offered to provide me with all the help I might need to turn this project into a success.
Code Your Future Colombia
Hugely inspired and full of ideas, I returned to Colombia later that summer. A few weeks later, a group of four people (Derlys Dominguez, Laura Ciro, Juan Herrera and Tim Schendzielorz) joined me in Medellín, Colombia to kick off Code Your Future Colombia. During this first meeting we determined the strategy on how to start with a group of pilot students in the spring of 2019.
Why and how
Like I stated before, the goal of CYFCO is to change the lives of underprivileged people in Colombia by lending our privileges to them. More concretely, we educate students to become software developers with a basic but decent skill set, adapted to local market requirements. The education takes place in Spanish. However, since a good command of English is a required skill for every professional software developer, we expect our students to put an effort into improving their English and reaching an acceptable level. Furthermore, we expect them to spend a serious amount of time and energy in their progress during the weekdays and they have to participate in a classical session each Sunday.
In addition to technical education and assistance, we provide students with practical support like a laptop and internet connectivity. We also cover their expenses related to the course (like transport or child care), join the students to language exchanges, and generally motivate them to make the desired change in their lives.
Initially, we focus on people living in Comuna 13 San Javier in Medellín. We will expand our focus to other Colombian comunas and cities once the project has been proven fruitful.
We decided on using the name ‘Code Your Future Colombia’ for three reasons. Firstly, we want to emphasize the close relation to Code Your Future in the UK. Secondly, using this name might help us with brand recognition. Thirdly, this prevents us from wasting our precious time on coming up with a new identity. All in all, CYFCO will be the first Code Your Future branch in another country and hopefully we can inspire more people from other countries to join the movement.
After having defined the why and the how, we can determine what steps we need to take to reach our goal.
- Start working on officially forming the foundation in Colombia. Our official and professional form is essential as it makes it easier for us to for example find sponsorships, open a bank account and sign contracts. Setting up a foundation also relieves us from having one person fully responsible. The first step here is to get advice from experts.
- Do a small market research with local and remote IT businesses to get an idea of what skill set they expect from our students to consider hiring them in the future. This field research is essential to determine the curriculum and start selecting and teaching the mentors.
- Select and contact locations that are suitable for the sessions on Sunday. We need to get an overview of the options and then balance the pros and cons.
- Get in touch with people from the targeted neighbourhood and make a strategy for recruiting students there.
- Set up communication channels to start spreading the word about the project. The newsletter is the first step, and we will soon launch a website, too. You can also find us on Twitter.
Once we finished the tasks described above, we should have a clear view of the next steps we need to take to start with the first group in the spring of 2019.
Care to help?
A lot of people respond enthusiastically to hearing about this project. It’s amazing to see that! We welcome everybody to join us in this project. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be a developer to help.
A few things that you could do to help us:
- Spread the word!
- Make a donation (details will follow later).
- Give a presentation.
- Teach English.
- Provide internship projects to students.
- Provide jobs to alumni.
- Become a mentor or volunteer: apply here.
And if you have other marvellous ideas, please share them with us!
I’m very excited to start this project here in Medellín. This beautiful city and it’s lovely people have gained a special place in my heart, and it’s a huge honor to be able to give something back. ¡A la orden!
Obviously, I could never set up and realize a project like this all by myself. I’m thankful to be surrounded by a great group of people who are determined to making this project a success!
I want to give a special thanks to Carme, Germán and the rest of Code Your Future UK for being such a great source of inspiration. Without meeting you, I would still only feel the desire to do what I’m doing now!
Finally, I would also like to thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to read this story. In case you have any questions or comments about the project, feel free to get in touch through email or Twitter (see my details below).
I wish you all a great day, y que le vaya muy bien!