What are you leading?
ScriptEd is a non-profit organization that equips students in under-resourced schools with the fundamental coding skills and professional experiences that together create access to careers in technology. We do that by providing a rigorous, long-term pipeline of support, starting with a full-year coding class taught at a school site by professional software developers on a volunteer basis. Students then progress into advanced classes, high school internships, and eventually careers in the tech industry. Not only do we aim to provide students with opportunities for economic fulfillment, we also aim to bridge the divide between the tech industry and the cities companies inhabit. If we’re successful, we believe we’ll decrease cultural and economic disparity by ensuring companies represent the communities they thrive in.
ScriptEd was conceived and created by Elizabeth & Maurya during their time as Corp members at Teach For America. Shortly after winning, Teach For America’s Social Innovation Award in 2013, Rebecca (another Teach For America alumna) joined the team where she now leads ScriptEd’s operations in the San Francisco Bay Area. ScriptEd currently serves more than 1200 students across New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area.
How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Rebecca: My time in the classroom was very challenging. In 2012-2013, my last year in the classroom, California ranked #50 of all states in per-pupil funding. I sat on our school site council, and had to help decide where to make cuts. San Francisco is one of the wealthiest cities in the nation, largely as a result of the tech industry - however that wealth and opportunity doesn’t trickle down into the public schools. I couldn’t see a future where my students (or even, my colleagues!) could attain jobs and salaries that would enable them to remain in the Bay Area long term. We had a computer lab, but we didn’t teach computer skills - students used the computers primarily to play remedial math games.
I know that Elizabeth and Maurya saw the same thing when they were teaching: that of the many students they worked with, none of them expressed that they were going to pursue a career in the tech industry. Working in schools, it is clear that access to careers in the technology industry is not fairly distributed, and that for many of our students a career in tech is not an option. ScriptEd is exists to provide a pathway to the tech economy for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity.
Looking back, I think my classroom experience was extremely foundational to my current role. Teachers face impossible problems, daily, and show up anyway. In my case, I was teaching students with serious speech and language disabilities to read, without even a library of books or a budget with which to buy them. As a teacher, you work to find solutions, you try things, and if what you tried didn’t work, you try something else. I wrote grants, I bought books with my own money, I found printable books online and printed hundreds of copies of them. I find that being willing to attempt the impossible is an essential part of this work. You have to be able to face the problems intelligently, try to understand them, and then assume that something that you will try will work - even if you have to keep trying, even if it hasn’t been done before.
ScriptEd is at particularly exciting time in our growth. We’ve experienced incredible success thus far: 73% of our alumni are on track for a career in tech - studying CS or a related field in college or currently working in the field. This is compared to 1% of students that have historically achieved these outcomes in the communities we serve. We’ve built a stellar community around our work, including industry leaders like Atlassian, GitHub, Google, Etsy, Salesforce, Mozilla, and others.
We have aspirations to grow significantly - our big goal is that in the next 10 years we will prepare 20,000 students for the tech workforce, generating $1B in incremental annual income for students & their families
To reach that goal, we need to invest in infrastructure and organizational capacity to scale, and so we're currently looking for partners who can help us reach our fundraising goals and provide introductions and advice.