Alvin Chitena is a junior at Wesleyan University. A student of computer science and data analysis, he has been able to combine -- in remarkably original and productive ways -- his interests in technology, education, philanthropy and socio-economic development in Africa. Alvin was born and raised in Zimbabwe, and after taking an introductory computer science course at Wesleyan, was inspired to create his own coding school back home to address root causes of economic inequality, social immobility, and political disengagement. He believes that all Zimbabwean youth -- like himself -- deserve the chance to learn to code, and he is confident that with that knowledge base, they will go on to prosper as individuals and contribute to the prosperity of their country. As founder and CEO of Zim Code, Alvin has built the enterprise from the ground up. He and his team designed a curriculum to ensure that Zim Code classes are both accessible and have significant learning outcomes. Now, as they prepare for their third summer, they have 70 tutors ready to deliver programs in high schools, and some 600 students have already benefited from Zim Code's offerings.
I learned how to write my first line of code at Wesleyan University, in my Introduction to Programming class. Even though I had always had an interest in computers and coding, I never had the access to programming at my public high school in Zimbabwe, and I couldn't afford private lessons. After reflecting on the incredible opportunity I had at Wesleyan which many young Zimbabweans did not, I decided to start a nonprofit coding school called Zim Code. I wanted to bring what I had learned to kids from underprivileged backgrounds with the hope of promoting coding as a tool for socio-economic empowerment and closing the access gap in Zimbabwe.
Zim Code is now in its third year of operation. So far, we have reached over 600 high school students and built a network of over 70 tutors. We are slowly transitioning from our once-a-year 12-week coding boot camp model to a year-round model where people of all ages can learn how to code regardless of their socio-economic background.