How to Start a Computer Science Club at Your High School

Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I had a relatively normal and unexceptional upbringing.

I loved computers and was incredibly curious about them. I built my first website when I was 7. Technology was so obviously the future and I wanted to be part of it.

I craved intellectual support, but I struggled to find it. My interest wasn’t supported by my parents. The school district I went to, like 90% of districts at the time, didn’t offer any computer science classes. I grew up in a home without books.

So as a teenager, I felt lost. In many ways, I felt trapped. I tried to start a computer science club at my high school to build the community I desperately wanted, but I struggled without the support of a larger organization.

I eventually gave up and dropped out of high school so I could move to San Francisco to work in the technology industry (profiled here).

For the first time in my life, I felt like I had found my tribe.

15 y/o Zach writing code

Technology is defining the 21st century.

It’s ridiculous that I had to move literally hundreds of miles from home to find a community that every young person should have in their backyard.

Our youth deserve so much better, but our outdated model of schooling is simply not equipped to serve their needs.

What if they could build it themselves?

Hack Club, a movement of computer science clubs building a community led by students, for students.

After moving out, I started Hack Club to build the program I wish I could have been part of as a student.

Hack Club is a network of high school CS clubs that do things that no regular high school clubs do, like organize events with hundreds of attendees and work for companies like Google and Facebook before applying to college.

Meetings are structured like mini-hackathons, where members learn to code through building projects and have freedom to pursue what interests them. As members gain experience, clubs begin to attend hackathons like Hack the Fog and organize their own.

After a small pilot, Hack Club launched in January 2016 and has since grown to become a worldwide network. There are now chapters in 221 high schools across 35 states and nearly 20 countries, with thousands of students attending each week.

Hack Club provides essential resources, namely leadership training, curriculum, and an online Slack community, to help clubs get started.

As our network has matured, we’ve started spending our time building deeper forms of support, like a financial backend for events and the most comprehensive directory of high school events, to support clubs as they grow.

If you’re interested in starting a club at your school, chances are we’d love to work with you. We’re a grassroots nonprofit funded by donors that went through the same experience as us.

Applications are currently open for fall 2018 on our website at https://hackclub.com and are accepted on a rolling basis.

All of Hack Club’s materials are open source on our GitHub and everything is provided free of charge. We are first and foremost a community project and rely on our community to grow the organization.

The goal of Hack Club is to foster a worldwide culture of hacking. High school students have many identities: the jocks, the band kids, the theater group. But there’s nothing for hackers. We, the students, can change that.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at team@hackclub.com or by joining our Slack team.

“Hack Club helped in opening my eyes to the possibilities of what was seemingly impossible, and I will forever be grateful for the ways it’s impacted me and the amazing community it’s fostered among students around the world.”
— Connie Liu, Age 16
“Hack Club has, in many ways, inspired me to grow and become the person I am today. Being part of the community allowed me to meet countless like-minded individuals who have challenged, and still continue to challenge me, to become a better person and a better hacker.”
— Rashid Al-Abri, Age 17
“Over the past few years, the Hack Club team has pushed me way, way out of my comfort zone and showed me so many pieces of what tech has to offer. I’ve met countless people and some of my best friends, organized my first hackathon by their encouragement (s/o to Los Altos Hacks), continued with web development, been constantly inspired… there’s so much more that I could list.”
— Selynna Sun, Age 18
From Hack Chicago, organized by Hack Clubs in Chicago and Cincinnati.