I recently had the chance to sit down with Hubber David Delmar, and talk to him about his new project: Resilient Coders. If you’re involved in the tech scene in Boston, you’ve almost definitely already heard of the Coders, who have won three consecutive TUGG awards. If you haven’t heard of the coders, you can check them out here or watch this amazing video that their team produced.
What are you currently working on?
Resilient Coders teaches young people, typically high-school age, from traditionally underserved communities how to code. Resilient Lab, one of Resilient Coders’ programs, employs young people who are up to the challenge of building real websites for real people for real pay. Another program, which happens here at Impact Hub Boston on Tuesdays and Thursdays, is an after-school cohort where young people get together with professional engineers who provide help with whatever the young people are building.
How did Resilient Coders get started?
David started Resilient Coders a little over a year ago, officially incorporating in September 2014 and receiving 501(c)(3) status in May 2015. Prior to Resilient Coders, David was leading a design and development team at PayPal Boston. Through his work and attendance at various tech conferences, he began to realize the tech community is fairly homogenous, noting the lack of representation from people of color. At the same time, David became involved with BUILD, an entrepreneurship-based program that ignites the potential of youth in under-resourced communities, and Sole Train, a community-building and mentoring program that uses running as a vehicle for setting and achieving seemingly impossible goals, as well as started working with people who were incarcerated. He realized that their personalities weren’t that dissimilar, and the simple difference between them was that he grew up seeing traditional education working for people, while many of the students he encountered saw traditional education failing to prepare many of the people in their communities for the workforce. They didn’t realize that there is a meritocracy out there, so Resilient Coders was started with the simple mission of changing that landscape. David began taking vacation days to start teaching incarcerated people the basics of web development and began to partner with the Boston Police Department, who agreed that David’s approach was a way to keep kids off the streets and build a meaningful career. He officially left PayPal in June of 2014 and spent the summer testing his hypothesis.
What’s your proudest moment?
David has had several proud moments at Resilient Coders, the most important of which is seeing the sense of community the young people gain from participating in the program. Some of his young people have come back as mentors, for example, and when one young person was struggling with homelessness, the first people he reached out to were his peers at Resilient Coders. Of course, whenever David sees anyone build a product they’re super pumped about, he’s enormously proud.
A Resilient Coders group wins the Winning Code Award at the 2015 Boston #HackWinter on December 15th.
What are some subjects you are passionate about?
Design. First and foremost, David is an artist who found his way to web development. Another passion is running – he ran the 2013 and 2014 Boston marathon, which he ended up getting talked into as a result of his involvement in Sole Train, when one of the participants in the program asked him to run alongside him.
What are some skills you are currently looking for?
From an organizational perspective, David is looking for someone who’s the opposite of him, meaning well-organized, operationally-minded, someone who can help him see around blind corners. This would represent his ideal full-time employee #2.
Why Impact Hub Boston?
David is a big fan of CIC generally, and loves the location of Impact Hub Boston. Location is super important to him because his organization needs to be centrally located for both young people and mentors. He’s tried other parts of town and has seen a massive drop-off from both sides. The other great part about Impact Hub Boston, which may sound cliché, really is the community. For example, he found out that at least one of his youth members is food insecure, and he casually mentioned it to a staff member. Without telling him, she was able to set up a sponsorship with Milk Street Café downstairs, which now offers Resilient Coders free sandwiches every Thursday. You don’t necessarily see that kind of initiative taken elsewhere.