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2017
May 31

FILED IN: Program Updates

New pilot program at Nellie’s Shelter teaches web skills

Allisha Ali, Developer at Hubba, teaches coding for a pilot program run by Nellie's Shelter. It has partnered with Ladies Learning Code and Hubba to give marginalized women a foot in the tech world by going beyond basic computer skills to offer coding. - Justin Greaves/Metroland

Allisha Ali, Developer at Hubba, teaches coding for a pilot program run by Nellie’s Shelter. It has partnered with Ladies Learning Code and Hubba to give marginalized women a foot in the tech world by going beyond basic computer skills to offer coding. – Justin Greaves/Metroland

For 12 weeks, nine women will take part in a pilot program that will give them the web skills they need to be members of the tech community with the help of Hubba and Ladies Learning Code.

The program is offered through Nellie’s Shelter, an east Toronto community organization committed to providing shelter, education and advocacy for all women and children.

The three organizations have teamed up to offer a computer program teaching relevant computer and web skills to marginalized women at 129 Spadina Ave.

The program, which goes beyond learning computer basics, gives women the chance to learn skills like depth coding, web management tools, website building, HTML and graphic design.

“We’re helping them put viable skills on their resume. We wanted to do what was important for the world today and the future and that goes beyond Word and Excel. Web coding is the new literacy,” said Stephanie Little, the lead co-ordinator for the program from Hubba.

The program, which consists of three-hour classes once a week, is the brainchild of Little, who launched it with the blessing of Hubba’s CEO Ben Zifkin last month. Little said creating the program was always a personal interest of hers and is happy to see the nine women, who wouldn’t be able to enrol in a program like this, be more web literate.

“I think women in the shelter systems and other programs are looking for a fresh start and a lot of them have been through quite a bit and I think what helps with a fresh start is confidence and that’s what we’re helping with, by providing this program.”

Nellie’s Shelter was approached by Hubba, a network where retail buyers can find, post and discover information on different products, to offer the free course. Its program manager Marlene Bell, immediately agreed since she knew how badly the women who use the shelter wanted to learn more advanced computer skills but didn’t have the means to do so.

“We can’t always find computer classes that are free of charge in the city, so clients may have to decide between food and courses,” Bell said.

“And if you have to make that decision, the basic needs come first.”

The program’s curriculum was created by the team at Ladies Learning Code, an organization that helps women and girls develop coding skills from as young as eight years old across the country.

Hubba approached them to develop the curriculum for the program and they were excited to help.

“Our work is about engaging women and youth, but especially for the most under-represented group,” explained Melissa Sariffodeen, the CEO of Ladies Learning Code.

“So we love giving women the chance to be in a tech community and be surrounded by the tech culture and see what their skills can be applied to.”

Participants are given a laptop to use.

“I hope through this program women are able to acquire more marketable skills they can use out in the community. We’re really excited about it,” said Bell.

by Hilary Caton

Hilary Caton is a staff reporter with InsideToronto.com and Metroland Media Toronto. She can be reached at hcaton@insidetoronto.com. Follow the Parkdale Liberty on Twitter and Facebook