The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund has awarded $30,000 to a pilot program that will provide computer programming and coding skills to students.
By providing this training, the Ohio Code Scholar Program aims to prepare Appalachian Ohio middle and high school students for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers. Funding from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) will support curriculum and program-related training materials.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to help our youth access coding and STEM careers,” said Cara Dingus Brook, FAO president and CEO. “We’re able to provide this grant thanks to the generosity of many donors to the foundation’s I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund. It’s a true community effort.”
Education is a focus area for FAO’s I’m a Child of Appalachia Fund, making up one of five Pillars of Prosperity essential to the quality of life in Appalachia Ohio. The other Pillars are Arts & Culture, Community and Economic Development, Environmental Stewardship, and Health and Human Services.
The coalition designing the Ohio Code Scholar Program consists of local high schools, career technical schools, local Education Service Centers, business leaders, and state officials. Southern State Community College (SSCC) in Highland County is providing support and acting as the fiscal agent.
In describing the need for the program, Dr. Shane Shope, program coordinator working with SSCC, wrote, “Ohio needs more resources to prepare college and career-ready high school graduates in the STEM area. It is estimated that more than 1.3 million jobs will be in the computer and math-related fields by 2022.”
Shope cited the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, noting there are multiple STEM jobs with good to excellent outlooks through 2029, but those positions will require coding skills. “Ohio could be in a position to become a national leader in how to impart programming and coding skills to middle and high school students,” he noted, adding that the pilot program will prepare Appalachian Ohio students for college and career demands.
State Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro), who supported funding for the program in the state budget, said the program is starting small so as to capitalize on the success of different districts, career-tech centers, and post-secondary school opportunities students currently have in grades 7-10. Wilkin believes the program will serve as a template for success in other Appalachian communities as well.
Submitted by Rochelle Hawk, communications and programs assistant, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.