The T-PEP mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in technology, science, or business through the use of computer programming education and strong industry role models.
Fundamentally, T-PEP is a community outreach organization dedicated to teaching computer programming skills to high-school aged students in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Philadelphia. However, the primary goal of T-PEP is to help students in these neighborhoods build the analytical skills and academic confidence required for succeeding in the professional world.
The choice to teach computer programming is founded on the assumption that the introductory principles of software design are more formulaic and accessible than the abstract concepts which are typically taught in math and science classes. Although becoming an expert programmer requires an exceptional amount of intellectual fortitude, the essential premise of computer programming is relatively simple – provide a computer with a list of instructions to execute a specific task.
While the program will undoubtedly appeal to students who already have an interest in technology, T-PEP hopes to educate those who may initially lack academic confidence in math and science. By being able to complete programming assignments and coursework, students can develop the confidence to pursue further academic study or professional employment. The term “Empowerment” within the name refers to this confidence which is fostered by the curriculum.
To further strengthen the message of empowerment, the curriculum will consist of stories and biographies of prominent individuals in the technology sector or well reputed professionals who have an academic background in programming and computer science. While technological training is undoubtedly beneficial, we want to communicate through these stories that it is actually the analytical and problem-solving skills gained by programming that are more valuable than the programming skills themselves.
Short Term Objectives
The immediate goal of the organization is to begin teaching the T-PEP curriculum in Philadelphia high schools and establish itself as an official non profit organization. We are working to complete the following tasks to achieve these objectives:
- Recruit volunteer instructors to teach the T-PEP curriculum starting in January 2015
- Identify Philadelphia high schools who would be willing to allow T-PEP to be administered as an after school program
- Find individuals willing to serve on the board of a T-PEP non profit organization
- File for 501 (c)(3) non profit status with the IRS
Long Term Objectives
In the long term the organization would like to accomplish the following:
- Obtain Internship/Externship opportunities for T-PEP students at local corporations
- Secure scholarship or academic study opportunities for T-PEP students at local universities
- Expand the T-PEP program to multiple schools
- Create other T-PEP course offerings in addition to the core Web Design/Computer Programming Fundamentals class
The concept for T-PEP was adapted from a summer camp program created for Friends’ Central School in 2005. The curriculum focused on teaching middle school aged children computer programing and graphic design basics as an additional offering for the school’s already popular summer camp. T-PEP differs, however, in that it will initially focus on educating high-school aged students, and will teach them both computer programming and professional development skills. In time, T-PEP hopes to also expand its offerings to middle school students by using introductory computer programming tools geared for younger users.