Toronto-based digital tech accelerator Driven is creating opportunities for at-risk and marginalized youth to learn coding and digital gaming.
Underneath the accelerator is a youth-focused project called Driven Labs, which teaches youth aged seven to 19 in at-risk Toronto neighborhoods how to code and build games that solve social issues.
During the 10-month program, youth will learn key design principles using a series of challenges, which they will solve both as team and independently. The goal of the program is build awareness of STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and encourage youth to choose a career path in any of these impactful areas.
“It’s important that our youth learn the language of the future. Learning how to code and build games teaches your brain how to solve complex situations, and those same learning’s can be applied to our daily lives," explains Tamar-Melissa Huggins, founder of the Driven Accelerator Group. "Our mission as an organization is to create more producers and innovators, not just consumers of technology.”
At the end of the program, participating youth will put their design skills to the test in a two day competition, according to Huggins. Winners will receive a financial grant towards any STEM program in Ontario, plus internship opportunities, computers and software to keep them going, Huggins says.
Since the idea launch last October, Driven Labs gained support from community and corporate organizations such as the Centre for Social Innovation, Interactive Ontario, Social Game Universe, and Centennial College.