A national nonprofit organization has partnered up with Facebook to bring free digital literacy programs to St. Louis Public Library computers.
LaunchCode, which is based in St. Louis, announced the partnership on Monday, with the nonprofit detailing their new Discovery program, which was made possible from the collaboration with Facebook’s Community Boost initiative.
According to LaunchCode, the Discovery curriculum was developed to introduce users to computer programming and help them build the fundamental skills necessary to pursue a career in the tech industry.
The online course is self-paced and supported by participant meetups, to be held weekly at select St. Louis Public Library locations and led by mentors.
The nonprofit company said they hope to break down barriers to careers in technology for St. Louisans by bringing education pathways directly to their communities with Discovery.
Jeff Mazur, executive director at LaunchCode, said Discovery’s curriculum will help bring the world of coding to more individuals in the St. Louis area.
“Discovery was created as a way for LaunchCode to reach even more individuals experiencing roadblocks in their path to a sustainable tech job,” Mazur said in a written statement. “Learning to code is becoming a critical 21st century skill and the opportunity to gain these skills hasn’t always been broadly available. Discovery is here to challenge that.”
Waller McGuire, executive director at St. Louis Public Library, echoed Mazur and said the partnership was a good way of expanding technology’s outreach to not only individuals but also businesses.
“The St. Louis Public Library is used by thousands of St. Louisans every day working to overcome the digital divide and be part of the tech world growing around them,” McGuire said. “Working with LaunchCode gives the Library a real, practical pathway to tech learning and jobs to offer to our patrons who have the interest and are willing to put in the effort. That is a huge opportunity, and we believe that working together we can benefit individuals, businesses, and St. Louis.”
Last year, the nonprofit earned national accolades when it was announced that they were named one of the grand prize winners in the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, earning them the grand prize of $150,000.
The MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge awards tech-driven organizations that are using technology in an innovative fashion that tackles the way people think about work.
At the time, Mazur said they applied for the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge because they believe innovation is at the heart of what they do at LaunchCode.
“LaunchCode applied for this because we really think that inclusive innovation is really a tremendous part of what we do and certainly we’re focused on using tech as a way to do that,” Mazur said. “Obviously LaunchCode is a non-profit organization that provides free and open access training to people and once they develop those skills we help get them into apprenticeships and jobs that will lead them into a career path.”