Educating the Next Generation of the Workforce
Building a capable, competent team is one of the most difficult parts of running a business. Sometimes you wish you could train potential employees their whole life so they would be ready to enter the workforce prepared. That’s why, at Leeward, we start talking to people as young as five years old to start building their skills.
We aren’t hosting job fairs or doing intense day-long workshops. Instead, we’re going into schools and facilitating programs that are both fun and educational to start introducing concepts surrounding technology and business early, with a focus on individuals that wouldn’t normally get exposure to these educational opportunities.
Girl Scouts and Coding — Kindergarten to Sixth Grade
The Girl Scouts of Southeastern Wisconsin approached Leeward about wanting to go into Racine, Wisconsin schools and teach girls there about coding. Leeward designed two different hour-long coding lessons and facilitated them for over 400 girls in a matter of months.
Our program was the first exposure to coding for many of these girls. This is incredibly important because there is still a huge lack of women in computer science. We helped them see the fun side of computer science and showed them if you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. We hope that exposing these girls to this opportunity will help them see how computers are a part of their future, not matter what industry they decide to go into. Even if they don’t wind up working for Leeward, we think the entire computer industry will be better off if just a few of these girls can find a home in it.
Boys and Girls Club Members and Coding — Fourth to Seventh Grade
The Kenosha Boys and Girls Club also wanted to provide an opportunity to learn about coding to their students who wouldn’t normally have access to that, so Leeward provided a weekly summer program for their students during the summer of 2016.
Instead of doing more recess activities, Leeward provided opportunities for students to learn about coding on computers.
KTEC Students and Coding — Seventh to Eighth Grade
Leeward hosted a day-long coding marathon at KTEC where students of all ages could participate and learn about basic coding concepts. From that spawned a weekly coding club for seventh and eighth graders.
By choice, the students made a game to help them learn their spelling words, after identifying all their current spelling game options and “childish”. Students worked with a Leeward coding expert to code the game and design it themselves, then eventually deployed it in a data center.
Not only did this give the students an opportunity to learn about coding, this give them real-world experience for working on a team and going through the process of creating a project, from identifying a problem, all the way through delivering a solution. Many people don’t get project experience this in-depth until in or after college.
KTEC Students and Business — Middle School
Most kids take a break over their summer vacation. Not these KTEC students. For two years now, a group of KTEC students have taken part in a Junior Achievement program hosted by Leeward.
Instead of relaxing by the beach, these students have built and grown businesses. Students learned everything from getting funding, to creating a product, to marketing it, all the way to closing their business at the end of the summer. This experience is arguably more involved than most college internships, preparing these students for the workforce before they’ve even finished their education.
Few people get to say they were part of building a startup, and even less get to say they were part of a startup before they entered high school.
Hands-On, Experiential Learning
Leeward is very interested in creating education opportunities for everyone, especially for those who wouldn’t normally get them. We believe building the next generation of the workforce is important, especially in the Midwest as other areas of the country grow and thrive.
In September, Leeward is putting on their third Harborfest, an event to support community involvement and betterment. We want to help support the organizations doing great things in our community by giving them a platform to discuss their efforts.