Local web developer wins $5,000 Ignite! Ideas Contest to teach girls web coding basics

Two minutes is all local web developer Shambi Broome had to submit her idea for EngenuitySC’s Ignite! Ideas Contest. It paid off as she became this year’s winner in the shark-tank style competition, earning a $5,000 award.

Ignite! Ideas Contest winner Shambi Broome (center) poses with her $5,000 award next to EngenuitySC Executive Committee member Holt Chetwood and Executive Director Meghan Hughes (photo by Kelly Petty).

Ignite! Ideas Contest winner Shambi Broome (center) poses Wednesday with her $5,000 award next to EngenuitySC Executive Committee member Holt Chetwood and Executive Director Meghan Hughes. (photo by Kelly Petty)

“I kept telling myself to have the opportunity to present was great. But to win is like icing on the cake,” Broome said.

Broome plans to start Webgyrlz Code, a hands-on training program that teaches elementary school girls how to code web pages using HTML5. Classes will be conducted after school or on the weekends and will be accessible to any school, youth group or homeschoolers. Broome plans to offer a five-course curriculum in the basics of web coding.

The goal is to engage young girls’ in science technology, engineering and math and prepare them for careers in related fields.

“I want girls to feel confident, even in elementary school and beyond, that they can do the things they like that might be the things that nobody else is really into, but it can be fun for them to do and it helps to improve your life in other areas,” she said.

The mother of two was inspired by her daughter, who wants to become an animator, to begin teaching girls coding early. She also researched and found that similar programs exist in other parts of the country, including Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code.

“That kind of sparked me thinking ‘Well, I love coding.’ So if she’s excited about animation, there might be girls out there excited about coding,” she said. “I started developing it, but it was Ignite! that really made me make it a complete thought and put it together.”

Broome will use the funding to purchase 15 computers and a Wi-Fi Hotspot to start the classes, as well as to create marketing materials and offer scholarships. Webgyrlz Code is geared toward third- through fifth-graders but later will include middle and high school students.

Broome also hopes to expand the classes to include other programming languages like PHP and Javascript, as well as offer a mobile classroom to reach underserved students.

Webgyrlz Code will launch in the next six months.

Ignite! Ideas Contest represents EngenuitySC’s commitment to cultivating talent and regional competitiveness in the Midlands and celebrate successes in the startup and entrepreneur community.

“What Shambi’s doing is perfectly in line and in step with what we view as some of the most important talent development we can do in this region,” said Executive Director Meghan Hughes. “She is working to cultivate that talent pipeline, building a STEM-cultured population of students who are ready to fill the jobs of tomorrow. And that’s what EngenuitySC is all about.”

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