Claudius Thomas, the CEO of Windsor-based Turaco Web International Group Inc., found out about Black Boys Code the same way everyone over 25 hears about everything: on Facebook.
“Out of curiosity, I contacted them,” Claudius recalls. “They put me through to the Program Manager. He was immediately excited. He explained that they had been trying to find someone to help launch a chapter in Windsor. So, I said, ‘Okay, if you can convince me, I’ll give it a go.’”
Claudius was convinced.
Black Boys Code is a charitable organization dedicated to inspiring a generation of young Black men to take control of their future and become tomorrow’s digital creators and technological innovators. They achieve this by helping them develop digital literacy and computer competence—the foundational building blocks of an educational path towards a career in the technology field.
Black Boys Code Windsor Chapter Launch
“We were all set to launch before the pandemic at the University of Windsor,” Claudius explains. “But then, COVID shut everything down. And it’s important to give kids the experience of being on campus. It gives them something to aspire to. So, we re-strategized.”
Black Boys Code Windsor launched virtually in June 2020.
“Two Saturdays a month, we run sessions where we teach young black boys about different aspects of computer programming,” Claudius states. “We have high numbers of them turning out. They do the work we prepare for them. We set goals for them. For example, last December, I suggested to the team that they do a demonstration about what they’ve learned. So, we had judges come in and we gave out first and second place prizes for the winners. They were so excited!”
And all this inspiration wouldn’t be possible, Claudius stresses, were it not for the mentors he’s accumulated. Some of which include Nyasha Kapfumvuti, Omolade Williams, Prof. Harold Greene, Prof. Phillip Olla, Herma Brown, Ayo Adams, Lota Chukwu, Ifedayo Oluwayemi, Jaydee Tarpeh, Marium Tolson-Murty and Victor Omofoye.
“They all understand the language,” Claudius states. “How to grow. When to grow. How to become themselves. And the instructors are all young Black mentors—some have even just graduated. But they’re all very, very bright. So, they get to envision themselves in these roles.”
And speaking of mentors, Claudius recently won the Mentor of the Year award at WEtech Alliance’s 2021 Tech Awards.
“It was nice!” Claudius surrenders, flustered by the attention. “For me, mentorship extends beyond Black Boys Code. I had some graduating students approach me for guidance later last year. So, I took them on. And I didn’t just get them to sweep the floors and grab coffee. I really wanted to engage with them.”
Claudius and his team at Black Boys Code have seen tremendous success! So much so that the Black Boys Code national headquarters has recently begun using the Windsor chapter as a guidepost for newer chapters.
“Claudius is absolutely outstanding!” Bryan Johnson, the CEO and Founder of Black Boys Code, explains. “He always goes above and beyond. He’s always finding creative ways to engage his students.”
“We are the reference point for anything new,” Claudius explains. “We are trailblazers. We’re all aware of the dedication to the task. We’re 100% committed to what we do.”
For the future, Claudius plans to grow Black Boys Code Windsor’s attendance.
“The aim is to get those kids into STEM,” Claudius states. “To get them into a STEM-related programs. We have to keep them engaged. Anything to help maintain their interest, to hear them say, ‘I want to become a developer.’ Or: ‘I want to create the next great rocket.’”
Black Boys Code Windsor has received a great deal of support from the community it is enriching, even obtaining a donation with Andrew Tepperman. Many others have stepped forward to voice their support.
“I enjoy coaching!” Claudius states. “I enjoy challenging kids. I enjoy watching them improve. Simple as that.”
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