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Davis Journal

Coding classes geared toward helping minority groups succeed

May 06, 2021 01:31PM ● By Becky Ginos

Juliette Bautista started CLUB ABILITY to teach children computer science by making it fun. Classes are taught in English and Spanish. Courtesy photo

BOUNTIFUL—When Juliette Bautista came to the United States from Peru she knew she wanted to find a way to share her skills while helping children succeed. That’s how CLUB ABILITY was born. 

“I started teaching free coding classes at the Bountiful Food Pantry in 2019,” said Bautista. “I wanted children to have an interest in computer science in a fun way. They create their own video games and we use things like Scratch and JavaScript.”

Bautista was a technical systems engineer with an MBA and was a project management professor in Peru. “My daughter has a medical condition,” she said. “Shriners has a non-invasive treatment which is the opposite from what is found in my country or other countries. We moved here for her.”

With her technical background and experience teaching coding classes, she decided to start CLUB ABILITY LLC. “I received a grant from Westside Leadership Institute in 2019,” said Bautista. “I knew if I could study in the institute I could learn then start my business.”

CLUB ABILITY is a good program held after school online, she said. “Each course has three levels, beginning, intermediate and advanced. We teach in Spanish and English but mostly in Spanish. There are not a lot of programs in Spanish.”

Bautista was recently named a finalist at the Women’s Entrepreneurial Conference and awarded a $2,500 grant to help grow her business. “It was amazing,” she said. “It was a lot of effort but I have a lot of gratitude too. There were some wonderful women there who are great in their communities.”

During her speech Bautista said she was able to talk about her students. “Currently tech is not very inclusive. For example facial recognition software works better for white men or those with light toned skin. Facial recognition can be biased and have a gap effect in the minority community. I’m trying to be part of the solution for these things. For me, I need to serve everyone not only a few groups.”

Mostly it’s an unconscious bias, she said. “We need more diversity. Their skin connects them to their reality and identity.”

In the U.S. there are few opportunities in technology for minority and special needs populations, Bautista said. “So I’m trying to push them to get their computer science degree. My goal is to help them explore technology so at a young age they can say ‘I’m good at that.’ Then when they’re in high school trying to decide what to do they’ll say ‘maybe I’m good at computer science.’ This is my dream.”

She’s also trying to create an environment where students with special needs can thrive. “I want to create something that makes them want to learn,” said Bautista. “Children on the Autism Spectrum sometimes get tired in the middle of class so we try to connect with them on their level to give them a special moment with other kids.”

Bautista plans to use the grant to hire part-time teachers and buy more software. “The kids like Minecraft so I want to buy a license for that. I’ll use the video game to show them how to use computer science in a fun way.”

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