October 13, 2017

Here’s how D.C.’s libraries became a home for a coding club for girls

Get inspired by three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

Two new books will inspire young girls who are interested in science and technology: “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World,” and “The Friendship Code,” a new fiction series for young readers. Covers courtesy of Penguin Random House

Breaking up the boy’s club: In August, Girls Who Code donated 800 copies of their founder Reshma Saujani’s new book, “Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World,” to the D.C. Public Library system. This was part of a partnership with AT&T to donate 4,000 books nationwide. The big donation to D.C. also sparked a new partnership: 10-week coding clubs in various libraries across D.C. The partnership aims to influence girls to pursue science and technology, says Corinne Roller, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Girls Who Code. “When you have girls who check these books out you can say, ‘Hey there’s a natural outlet, there’s a next step for you,’” she told Technical.ly DC. The libraries will provide the venues for the clubs, while Girls Who Code will provide the programming—the oranization has extensive experience running coding clubs for teen girls.

“No one should be hungry”: Liam Hannon, a 10-year old from Cambridge, Massachusetts, noticed that his neighborhood, Central Square, was a place where a lot of homeless people congregated. In response, he started Liam’s Lunches of Love. Each week, he and his friends make paper bag lunches, and Hannon and his father, Scott Hannon, distribute the meals to those in need in their neighborhood. “It makes me really proud as a dad,” Scott recently told ABC News. “Plus, it was something nice we could do together as father and son and with my wife and baby. [Liam] has a huge heart.” The endeavor started small, with Hannon making 20 bags each week; now he makes upwards of 60, and has raised $2,615 on GoFundMe to continue his effort. “Many of the people we help are actually really nice and could use just a little kindness in their lives,” Liam said.

Making connections: Centennial Station may seem like an ordinary Amtrak station. But the small station, situated just outside of Lacey, Washington, may be one of the only Amtrak stations in the country run entirely by volunteers. The station, opened in 1993, is a haven for retirees looking to stay active and make a difference in their communities. The position gives volunteers a chance to socialize and feel a sense of responsibility. In 2016, an estimated 65,000 passengers used the station. “Over and over again I have people come up and say, ‘I’ve never traveled by train before. What do I do?’ ” Lowell Dightman, a volunteer at Centennial Station, told the Christian Science Monitor. “I see the job as helping people understand trains.”

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor for The Renewal Project.