We’ve long heard that Wisconsin has a brain drain problem, especially in the tech industry.

Highly-educated college graduates are fleeing the state for lucrative and prestigious jobs on the coasts, instead of staying put to advance their careers.

So, how do we ignite change?

I believe that high school students in the greater Milwaukee area should have access to high-quality computer science education and professional job experiences to ensure their success in tech-related fields.

In 2017, I co-founded Code the Way, a 501©3 organization, and have been actively working to reverse the exodus.

Code the Way increases opportunities for future technology workers while showing them how to give back to their community in a meaningful way. These young men and women become junior developers, build software and complete projects. So far, their combined efforts have provided more than $250,000 in tech services to Milwaukee non-profits in need.

In our first year, we had ten bright students produce a mileage tracker for the non-profit Life Navigators to help disabled clients maintain their independence and quality of life.

The following year, 45 students helped Heroes for Healthcare reconfigure their data storage and information tracking systems in service veterans looking for jobs. Their director was ecstatic with the result.

In 2019, we supported the Convergence Resource Center, rebuilding their website to make it more responsive and user-friendly for victims and survivors of human trafficking as they reconstruct their lives.

Aside from the help to these wonderful non-profits, the upside for the kids has also been incredible.

One young man said he was “tossed into a knowledge well that was deeper than anything he had ever experienced before.” Working for a client was new to him, but he was able to find the right balance of what the non-profit needed along with what he could achieve for them.

These students master the essentials of web development, better understand company culture, and boost their team and client people skills through our program. And they have a great product to show for it in the end.

Want to make a difference with Code the Way? Volunteer as a student mentor or coach, sponsor resources for the team, or donate to support our efforts here.