Community Code

Community Code brings S.T.E.A.M. curriculum to the people where they are, we reduce barriers and create wealth.

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Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Talib A. Graves-Manns

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Man

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • USA

Where are you making a difference?

North Carolina, U.S.A. Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Greensboro!

Website or social media url(s)

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
  • Creating digital tools

Project Stage

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $50k - $100k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

From 2015-2017 I served as an EIR with Code2040 and Google. In my role I was challenged with building my tech start-up and also providing more technology access and education to African-American communities. During my tenure I travelled around the U.S. meeting with groups, learning of programs put in place that were designed to provide technology education access to younger people. What I witnessed in these programs were many half-baked efforts to provide access. What was missing was tech (S.T.E.A.M.) programs designed to democratize access and essentially “meet the community where it is” with proper education that will prepare them for jobs and educational tracts of the future.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

We are solving for (under) employability with the S.T.E.A.M. Tech sector for pipeline development of African-American youth (9-18 year old). The current problem is that these young people are not getting (primarily through their schools) curriculums that incorporate practical application of tech skills as they correlate to career/jobs paths that are projected to be available at the time of graduation from high school, college or trade schools.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

The Community Code Project is a computer coding program and after-school program in which local minority students are given an opportunity to participate in an online coding program. During the Community Code sessions, we provide “code break” intermissions. These intermissions consist of regional entrepreneurs and business leaders who provide real-world application of the programming curriculum the student has learned throughout their modules. Our objective is to increase contextual STEM application so that students will have the foundation to explore the high in demand functional job as aligned to the career and entrepreneurial ventures aligned with the graduation from high-school.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Our innovation is two-fold. First, we have reverse engineered access to S.T.E.A.M. education. The traditional model is that schools or community centers procure computers and students (if they can access) are relegated to use these computers sparingly and more often than not, with instructors who do not do an adequate job of connecting (teaching) the dots of career + technical education + salary. Second, we have created a modular program - we take our curriculum to any environment so long as it has the basics - wifi, electricity and a place to sit - we provide the laptops and teachers!

5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?

Regarding Employability we employ a Theory of Change to define success in the future job market. The Community Code Theory of Change is straightforward, we connect and equip young students and aspiring entrepreneurs across the Triangle area of North Carolina and beyond with the skills needed to create businesses, jobs, intellectual property, and community wealth for generations to come. By connecting community stakeholders into a codependent network while also equipping community stakeholders with the data and educational curriculums (aligned with business trends) we will increase the number of underserved community stakeholders who are positioned to thrive in the business trajectory for the future of North Carolina. We expect to experience the positive externalities of job creation, entrepreneurial venture creation, growth in STEM course work.

5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress

Specifically the future-oriented skills are aligned with S.T.E.A.M. including the most used coding languages: Python, Ruby on Rails, Java, JavaScript, C - additionally we incorporate adobe creative suite to bridge learnings into the arts as well. During our code-break sessions we explore business models and how technology plays an integral part in business development and enterprise growth and sustainability.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Within the North Carolina marketplace there are only a handful of S.T.E.A.M. technology coding specific companies/groups, none of which approach access the way we do. Our approach is two-fold - 1) Reverse Engineer Access (connect dots on education with salary and jobs of future) 2) We are modular.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

[Here is a snapshot from our pilot, to-date (9 months) we have worked with 75 youth). The Community Code Pilot Project was a 6-weekend computer coding program in which local minority students are given an opportunity to participate in an online coding program.Each student followed a scaffolded tutorial to learn the basics of computer coding with a heavy emphasis on Python, the platform centered on a text-based code editor. Students learn to read, modify, and write their code using a combination of drag-and-drop tools and typing directly into the Python code. Each lesson includes three phases: build, modify, and create. As a result, the student gained 1:1 computer coding support and shared learning and new applications with their peers. Our Curriculum Director tracked student's progress through each step of the lesson, zoning in or each student's growth level.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

We operate as 501c3, and fundraise throughout the year for our organization. Our program is unique and we are able to tap into non-traditional funding sources. As we grow the program we are also planning to offer an income-based “pay” model and scholarships.

10. Team

We have an executive director (MBA), curriculum director (MA), and tech career director (Coding School Graduate / Front End Developer). We have three Board Members. We currently pay our team in very modest compensation and they offer a lot of volunteer hours. Our goal is to grow and pay our staff full time salary by the end of year 2020.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Ethnic group
  • Socioeconomic class

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

Yes. Our leadership team consist of African-American who come from the same communities that we provide solutions for.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges  

Evaluation results

1 evaluation so far

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2. Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

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3. Does this entry have SOCIAL IMPACT?

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4. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

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6. FEEDBACK: Highlights

IMPACT POTENTIAL: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) – and you have a concrete plan for future impact. You have specific tools for measuring impact. - 0%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful solutions - 100%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work operationally and financially in the present and future; your plan is specific and you value sustainability. - 100%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You have a good plan on how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

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7. FEEDBACK: Areas for Improvement

IMPACT POTENTIAL: make sure to provide specific instances of your social impact (or how you plan to measure impact) – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, the main activities/products, and provide evidence of (or plan for) impact evaluation - 100%

QUALITY OF INNOVATION: make sure to describe how your solution is unique and innovative – it is helpful to include the research you have done on past solutions and how your solution is different from (and/or builds upon) these. - 0%

FINANCIAL AND OPERATIONAL SUSTAINABILITY: make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: make sure you describe your plan for how to empower others to become changemakers through your programming, service, or product - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to be concise, descriptive, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 0%

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