App Camp for Girls

Just read a really great initiative called AppCamp for girls. Had to share it to spread the word.

App Camp for Girls wants to address the gender imbalance among software developers by giving girls the chance to learn how to build apps, to be inspired by women instructors, and to get exposure to software development as a career. Our goal is to grow our non-profit organization into a national force, with programs in multiple cities, helping thousands of girls.

We are launching this summer in Portland, Oregon. This summer, we’ll be holding two sessions with girls 12-14 so that we can build and refine our curriculum. With experience and an established program, we’ll move forward over the coming year with plans to expand the camp for Summer 2014 to accommodate more girls and a bigger age group, and to build the organization to reach beyond Portland to other cities.

Have you ever attended a tech conference and wondered, “Where are all the women?” That was founder Jean MacDonald’s question. She attends an annual developer gathering with over 5000 attendees every year, and only a few hundred of them are women. Instead of feeling cranky about it, she tried to think of a positive way to address the imbalance.

What happens at App Camp?

The schedule at App Camp For Girls is equal parts geeky and fun. It’s summer camp, after all! Girls are divided in to project teams, and the teams are led by a woman iOS developer with help from other women who are designers, testers, support specialists, and others.

The weeklong session covers the process from brainstorming an app idea to marketing the finished app. Girls will learn how to sketch out and storyboard their app ideas. The project team leaders will take the refined app storyboards and show the girls how apps are built in Xcode. The girls will have an opportunity for hands-on time with Xcode Storyboards and will learn how to customize the content of their app.

In addition to developing their apps, the girls get to design icons and write App Store descriptions, while figuring out who their target market is. On the last day of camp, the teams will pitch their apps to a panel of women angel investors, giving them a chance to receive valuable feedback and learn more about the business side of app development.

Each day, we’ll also have some physical activities with teachers coming in to do yoga, hula hooping, and self defense. Weather permitting (it is Oregon, of course), we can take advantage of the playground at TaborSpace where the camp is held and go on hikes in nearby Mt. Tabor Park. There will also be arts-and-crafts, button making, decorating iPhone cases and designing iPhone wallpaper.

The camp will provide an iPod touch for each girl to use. This will make it easy for the girls to learn by example, looking at current apps and how they work. The finished apps from each project team will be loaded on to all the iPod touches so the girls can see their apps on the device and get that sense of pride and excitement that comes with deploying your first app.

What will the funds be used for?

Our goal is to raise enough money to fund the first 12 months of building a non-profit nationwide program. We have the costs of launching the Summer 2013 App Camp with 32 girls over two sessions (June and August), as well as the costs of running the camp, expanding the program and doing outreach for the next 12 months. Some of the expenses include:

iPod touches
MacBooks, backup drives and other accessories
venue rental
classroom equipment and projector
volunteer stipends
design tools and art supplies
software: CRM, finance, presentation
website hosting
accounting and legal services
printing and t-shirts
snacks and lunches
How can you help?

First and foremost, we welcome your dollars! There are hard costs associated both with launching and seeding a fruitful, long-term venture like this. (Did we mention we were thinking big? Lots of lost ground to make up for as far as creating gender balance and opportunity!)

Second, we’d love your help getting the word out about App Camp for Girls—both this fundraiser and the project in general. We can’t be everywhere and we don’t know everyone who’ll want to be involved—yet, anyway—so we really need your help. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or your favorite online or real-life networks of choice increases our chances of getting more girls in more camps making more apps.

To facilitate this, Friend of AC4G and functional muse Dyana Valentine generously pre-rolled some <140-character messages for your tweeting convenience: Think app-building is a boy-thing? Don't click here: Think girls+summer=lemonade stands and tan lines? Think again! Help 32 girls kick APP this summer! Want to support girls in tech? Put your $ where your heart is: Integrating software development, one girl at a time: Girls+tech+lady smarty pants mentors= a better world. Support @AppCampforGirls 20130604-220454.jpg


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