Codeup Demo Day at The Briscoe Western Art Museum April 22, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.
Codeup Demo Day at The Briscoe Western Art Museum April 22, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.

“Give a man a computer program and he’ll eat for a day. Teach the man computer programming and he’ll eat for a lifetime and start his own tech company.” I think that’s how the saying goes.

Teaching people to code is the sole mission of Geekdom startup Codeup, which has created a crash course in computer programming to take hard-working individuals from non-techie to hirable programmer in only 12 weeks.

(Read More: Codeup Grads Released Into General Population)

While that program is for paying adults, Codeup is now launching a free weekend program to teach coding to teens in high school.

The program is called Codeup Teens and will provide  free, two-hour programming classes on the last Saturday of every month at Geekdom of San Antonio on the 10th floor of the Weston Centre. Each session will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will enroll about 25 students. The first class begins June 28. Students can RSVP at the Codeup Teens webpage, filling seats on a first-come-first-serve basis.

“The goal is to raise overall computer literacy, and hopefully more kids will grow up and want to be in good programming jobs, rather than have lower aspirations for less demanding jobs,” Codeup founder Michael Girdley said.

About 30 students attend the first day of Codeup in February 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
About 30 students attended the first day of Codeup in February 2014. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Girdley decided to create Codeup Teens after seeing the huge turnout of San Antonio teens for the Schools Out Hackathon, or SoHacks, which was held last weekend at Rackspace Hosting. The event drew a huge crowd of San Antonio teens, many of whom were interested in programming despite their lack of access to a personal computer, or laptop. Because of this, many teens waited in long lines at the event to borrow one of the available laptops so they could participate and start learning to program.

“We just see that there is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community – to expose more people to something that could really change their life rather than doing menial labor or what they might have otherwise considered doing,” Girdley said. “It (SoHacks) opened our eyes up to the number of kids in San Antonio, especially teens, that don’t have exposure to this stuff either through school or at home and we want to help with that.”

Codeup Teens is open to any teen either in high school or entering high school this fall, and the skills taught at each weekend session will depend on each student’s previous knowledge of programming. Novices will be introduced to MIT’s Scratch, an online drag-and-drop program that teaches programming fundamentals while teens who have already had some programming experience can try learning JavaScript. Laptops for the program will be provided by San Antonio non-profit VentureLab and each class will be taught by former and current Codeup students and Codeup staff volunteers. If the first few events are successful and have good turnout, Girdley may widen the scope of the program.

Codeup founder Michael Girdely. Courtesy photo.
Codeup founder Michael Girdely. Courtesy photo.

“Entrepreneurship is all about experimentation, so social entrepreneurship is the same thing. We’re starting with this, and then we’ll see what magic happens,” Girdley said.

Codeup’s original for-profit program is a 12-week web programming bootcamp that covers Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and JavaScript; and also feature visits from tech industry professionals who speak on entrepreneurship and other topics. The startup has already graduated its first boot camp and is in the last six weeks of its second camp.

According to Girdley, 23 of the 27 students who entered the inaugural class have already found employment as a programmer – which is good, because Codeup offers an employment guarantee for graduates who can’t find a job after six months, entitling them to half of their tuition back. The next available bootcamp starts Aug. 5 and is still accepting applications. Tuition is currently listed as $9,875.

*Featured/top image: Codeup Demo Day at The Briscoe Western Art Museum April 22, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.

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Andrew Moore is a native of San Antonio and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He wrote on tech startups for a year as a freelancer for Silicon Hills News and loves reporting on the cool...