The Spring 2018 issue (and 10th issue!) of Pulse Spikes features leaders, young changemakers who are rewriting the narrative. At 25, supermodel Karlie Kloss has founded nonprofit organization Kode WIth Klossy to teach girls how to code—this year with 50 camps across 25 cities. Karlie Kloss discusses the upcoming summer camps and the power of code in conversation with Pulse Spikes Editor-in-Chief and Kode With Klossy scholar Anna Zhang.

What led you into entrepreneurship? Did it come naturally?
I’ve always been interested in entrepreneurship, especially projects that match my interests with social good. For example, I launched my cookie line because I loved baking and experimenting with healthy ingredients, and wanted to find a way to also help people in need, which is why we partnered with FEED. That same concept sparked Kode With Klossy—I realized how powerful of a tool coding is after taking my first class, and wanted to share that. There is nothing more rewarding than working on something you’re passionate about that also helps others.

In this digital age, it’s more important than ever to be equipped with coding skills. What prompted you to learn how to code?
Growing up, I was always interested in math and science, and it was actually the fashion industry that drove my interest in technology. I saw how the industry was being transformed by things like social media and e-commerce, and I wanted to understand how it all worked. So out of sheer curiosity, I took my first coding class in 2014 and was instantly hooked.

What is the power of code?
After taking that first class, I realized that learning to code was a creative and collaborative endeavor, and I wanted to find ways to share that experience with others. Early exposure to tech is so important, though the education and learning opportunities are not as readily available as they should be, especially for women and girls. It’s critical for more young women to have access to STEM opportunities because technology touches so much of the world around us. Being able to use code allows us to have a voice and say in our future, and it all starts with education.

You recognized that women were underrepresented in STEM fields. How is Kode With Klossy approaching this problem in a unique way?
At Kode With Klossy, we not only provide computer science education opportunities, we also work to inspire women and girls to want to learn code. We aim to break down the stereotype that you have to be a math or science whiz to be interested in or “good at” code. In actuality, code is really creative and can be applied to whatever it is you’re passionate about, which we encourage throughout our program. Because the gender gap in tech starts to widen around the ages of 13 to 17, it’s important that women and girls are excited about the opportunity to learn code at a young age.

Being able to use code allows us to have a voice and say in our future…

Do you have a favorite memory while visiting one of the camps?
Each year, I love getting to meet all of our Kode With Klossy scholars and witnessing their journey through code. It’s amazing to get to know them, hear their stories, and see the innovative ideas and projects they develop during the two-week program. There are so many memories, but one that stands out is attending the demo day at our LA camp last year, where I saw the scholars present their final projects. I had heard from each of them throughout the camp, so it was really cool to see all of their ideas come to fruition. They created everything from a website that highlighted bills currently being voted on in Congress to a virtual reality zombie game. It was amazing seeing them really understand the process and collaborate with each other.

What has surprised you the most about Kode With Klossy?
It’s been amazing to see the organic community emerge out of Kode With Klossy. As you know personally, our Kode With Klossy scholars and alumni not only learn to code during the camps, they also meet new friends along the way. The group chat is a positive, fun place for girls to continue connecting on their most recent coding projects, recruiting teams for tech competitions, and generally keeping up with each other.

What can you share about the 2018 Kode With Klossy camps?
We’re so excited to share that we’re hosting 50 camps in 25 cities across the U.S. this summer, which is a huge expansion for us! I encourage all of your readers to visit kodewithklossy.com to learn more about where we’ll be and how to apply.

 

PHOTOS MAGDA ZOFIA
COVER PHOTO EXPRESS
INTERVIEW ANNA ZHANG

Read more in Volume III, Issue No. 002 – Spring 2018.

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