Under The Hood With Code Savvy



Code SavvyIn October, we introduced Under the Hood to better understand how technology oriented nonprofits in Minnesota function.

This recurring series is made possible by research partner Altrulytics and underwriter Atomic Data.  Over the coming weeks we will publish individual responses, and in the end, compile an aggregated assessment of the landscape with further analysis.

Organization Name: Code Savvy

Executitive Director:  Rebecca Schatz

When was it formed and for what purpose?

Code Savvy was formed on December 9, 2012 – the birthday of the great inventor and computer scientist Grace Hopper. Code Savvy is a not-for-profit organization inspiring kids and teens to become code-savvy, that is, to understand the kind of creative thinking that goes into coding and to try out programming computers and devices. Code Savvy is also committed to bring more diversity – gender and ethnic diversity – into the information technology industry.

Who or what do you serve?

We work directly with young coders in a variety of programs. Our work creates a pipeline of code-savvy youth that will ultimately benefit Minnesota’s technology industry and culture of innovation. We partner with a variety of educational organizations, locally and globally, and receive financial and volunteer support from dozens of local companies.


How many do you serve?

To date Code Savvy programs have welcomed nearly 2000 young coders, and trained dozens of adult mentors and teachers. Our programs range from single two-hour coding sessions to a three month long mobile app challenge.

What are the main programs/resources that you offer?

Coder Dojo Twin Cities – A friendly, free, mentored environment for young coders to explore programming by making web and mobile apps, games and more – part of the global CoderDojo movement. Since April 2013, we’ve welcomed over 1700 young coders and inspired five additional branches, including Katie CoderDojo & Tonka CoderDojo.

Technovation[MN] – Young women (teens) design and code mobile apps, then market and pitch them in an international contest. Technovation[MN] launched 11 Minnesota teams last year and has
grown to 40 teams with over 80 mentors in 2015.

Northside Code Clubs – After school and summer coding classes at eight partner sites in North Minneapolis focus on coding skills and creative problem solving for children and teens. We have recently received funding to expand beyond the Northside into other low opportunity communities.

Code Camps – Summer code camps for youth in grades 3 through 10, held at various sites around the Twin Cities.

Code Savvy Educators – K-12 teachers and after-school educators explore computer science in “Get With The Program” workshops. Code Savvy is also launching a Leadership Cohort of knowledgeable, visionary educators to make Minnesota a world leader in Coding in the Classroom – starting in elementary and middle school – and help all our students become creators, not merely users, of new technology.

Do you have earned income and if so, how?

Some from camps & workshops

What key metrics do you use and how do you measure the impact of your org?

  • Number of youth served
  • Hours of hands-on coding provided
  • Completion of functional programs and projects
  • Demographics of those served (gender, ethnicity, poverty, zip code)
  • Balance – are we reaching target audiences?
  • Specific performance rubric (for the Technovation Challenge)
  • Surveys (to kids, families and mentors)
  • Formative evaluation – watching and analyzing programs in action and discussing ways to improve. We are interested in assessing knowledge of specific programming skills and concepts and also in the “soft” skills of problem solving, perseverance, communication, etc.

How do you source funding and can you provide us with three years most recent tax returns?

Funding for Code Savvy programs comes from a variety of sources, ranging from earned income (for camps and some workshops) to charitable donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. We are honored to receive support from many companies in the local IT industry and welcome new partners in our work.

  • CoderDojoTC was launched in 2013, with lots of volunteer time, donated machines and donated services, but not much cash. Our 2013 revenue was only a few thousand dollars — not high enough to require the full 990 report.
  • In 2014 our finances are on the map, and we will file a 990 due May 15.  Our impact is again much greater than our budget due to generous volunteer and in-kind resources dedicated to the Code Savvy mission.  We received two major contributions late in 2014 earmarked for 2015 programs;  that gives our 2014 financials a lopsided look, but puts us in excellent shape for 2015.  A snapshot:

2014 Revenue and Contributions = $136,949
2014 Expenses =  $ 28,659
2015 Budget  = $171,420.  (both of revenue and for expense)

Do donors fund the organization as a whole, specific programs and/or something else?

Many donors designate their gifts to one of Code Savvy’s core initiatives: CoderDojoTC, Technovation[MN], Educators Get With the Program, Code Clubs or Code Camps. Other donors give to Code Savvy as a whole; we invest this money in capacity building or in resources that benefit all of our initiatives. Sponsorship opportunities are available that provide recognition to sponsors at certain events, incuding the gala Appapalooza, Educator events and CoderDojoTC sessions.

Given the options of nonprofits to support in the technology industry, what makes yours unique?

Code Savvy is the only nonprofit organization in Minnesota dedicated to inspiring youth to explore programming and computer science. Several of our core initiatives serve young coders from all backgrounds; others specifically attract and serve target populations – girls, students of color, youth from low income families, and youth in rural communities. Code Savvy is also developing and training educators prepared to teachhands-on coding in K-12 classrooms.
Who is on the executive board of your organization?

The Code Savvy Board of Trustees: Lanise Block, Rebecca Schatz, Kim Skanson, Shawn Stavseth, Jean Weiss and Andrea Wilson Vazquez. Several initiatives that are part of Code Savvy also have Boards. We welcome inquiries from potential Board candidates interested in our mission.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

In our first two years, Code Savvy launched 5 major initiatives and served nearly 2000 young coders at 37 sites in the Twin Cities and beyond. Minnesota’s economy depends on trained technology professionals and the demand in IT far exceeds the supply. The need and the desire for coding clubs, classes, camps and contests is large and growing; many of Code Savvy’s programs fill rapidly and generate long wait lists. We welcome support from the Tech{dot}MN community to add and expand high quality opportunities for teens, kids and coding.