The lab starts filling up after school lets out. Students trickle in. They help themselves to a snack — today it’s tacos — and chat excitedly with friends. They laugh and joke, listening to Beyoncé and Rihanna on built-in speakers. Soon, employees from one of the world’s most influential companies will arrive to teach these students about computer science: how to program computer games, how to work with data and how to found and run a business.
Code Next is a free after-school program designed to make tech more accessible to students of color, many of whom lack opportunities to explore STEM fields in middle and high school. That affects the pathways students pick in college: A smaller share of Black and Latino students earn degrees in a STEM field than in other degree programs, according to a recent Pew Research study.