Summer 2019 Ignite Interns Wil Osborne and Nathan Ray are all smiles while working hard for their Information Technology internship with CGI Federal in Lebanon, Virginia.

United Way of Southwest Virginia Partners with CodeVA to Strengthen Computer Science Education and Career Exploration in Southwest Virginia’s School Systems

(Abingdon, VA) June 8, 2020 – United Way of Southwest Virginia announced today a partnership with CodeVA, a nonprofit organization that partners with schools, parents, and communities to bring equitable computer science education to all of Virginia’s students. Regionally, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center manages CodeVA programs in Southwest Virginia as its institutional training and program partner.

CodeVa is partnered with the Virginia Department of Education to provide equitable computer science teacher professional development and other services to Virginia school divisions and teachers in support of the Virginia computer science legislative mandate that was passed in 2016. The mandate requires all schools to integrate computer science as a fundamental literacy from Kindergarten through 8th grade.

“CodeVA believes that communities are best served through collaboration, and that computer science, as well as critical problem-solving skills useful along any career path, is an essential literacy for all Virginia students,” said Chris Dovi, Executive Director of CodeVA. “We’re excited to join United Way of Southwest Virginia to help the region lead the way for the rest of Virginia.”

The partnership between CodeVA and United Way of Southwest Virginia is a piece of the Ignite Technology Talent Development Program that was recently recommended for funding by GO Virginia Region 1. Ignite Tech Talent directly aligns with the strategies of Region 1 to support talent development to strengthen the pipeline at all levels.

 “This partnership will allow our organization to work interactively with United Way of Southwest Virginia to coordinate and ensure our services align, and that together we increase student engagement in computer science-related content study and career attainment,” stated David Matlock, Executive Director of the Southwest Higher Education Center and Managing Director of CodeVA in Southwest Virginia.

A targeted industry of the region, information technology is expected to be a high-growth occupation across the Commonwealth of Virginia with expected growth by 2024 of 9.3%, which outpaces the national growth expectation of 6.5% (Virginia Employment Commission Virginia Job Outlook).

According to Travis Staton, President and CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia, “This new partnership with CodeVA will allow us to provide the workforce of tomorrow with the support needed to integrate computer science studies and career exploration into our region’s school systems.  Implementing these new economic development initiatives are vitally important to the long-term success of Southwest Virginia.”

Photo credit: Keri Stegall, United Way of Southwest Virginia

ABOUT SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA HIGHER EDUCATION CENTER

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center located in Abingdon, Virginia, is the first multi-college and university institution of higher education in the Commonwealth.  Established as a State Agency in 1991, the Higher Education Center partners with public and private colleges, universities, and other organizations to provide degree programs, certificates, and professional development courses. The Center became the Superintendent Region Seven CodeVA training center in 2018 and since then has provided STEM opportunities to over 2,000 K12 students and professional development for 115 teachers.

For more information about the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, visit https://www.swcenter.edu/

ABOUT CODE VA

CodeVA is an educational non-profit created to promote computer science all across Virginia. CodeVA was founded with the principle that anyone can code, and that every Virginia child has a fundamental right to computer science literacy. Since 2014, CodeVA has taken great strides in making computer science a priority for Virginia. In 2016, Virginia became the first state in the nation to pass sweeping computer science education reform. This law mandates that every Virginia child will receive access to essential computer science literacy – to include coding – from kindergarten through graduation. CodeVA seeks to build a strong, vibrant 21st century Virginia workforce by providing access to computer science education for every child. For more information about CodeVa, visit www.codeva.org.