The Research, Development, & Operations (RDO) team at Blackbaud doesn’t just spend its time developing software solutions for the social good sector. The team also takes its passion for technology to local students through a give-back program designed to show students from under-resourced communities that careers in technology are not just possible, but something they should pursue.
Last month, a team of more than 20 Blackbaud volunteers (or “camp counselors”) brought the magic of their work to 24 fifth-grade students from the Charleston, SC community through a partnership with the Charleston Promise Neighborhood, a nonprofit that seeks to break the cycle of poverty in some of the local community’s poorest areas and promotes a college-bound culture.
The students spent two days at Blackbaud’s world headquarters in Charleston, SC, learning about technology careers and coding. During the two days, our highly skilled technologists walked the kids through the many phases of software development, including user experience, engineering, and user education. Students then worked in teams of four, which included their camp counselor, to program robots. At the end of camp, the students made group presentations to a number of leaders across Blackbaud and showed off what they had programmed their robots to do.
“Our desire includes introducing students to the opportunities a technology company can offer, helping them to learn and complete a development process, and have fun along the way. We want to inspire the students by showing them that they have what it takes within them to work in technology at a company like Blackbaud,” said Jill Galloway, a principal program manager at Blackbaud.
Camp Blackbaud is designed to bridge the opportunity gap for students from under-resourced neighborhoods and schools, highlight the importance of STEM education, and encourage students to pursue careers in technology. Camp Blackbaud brings science and technology to life and helps them understand why science and math matters.
“Since 2013, Camp Blackbaud has been a tremendous partner of Charleston Promise Neighborhood, helping to ignite the ‘spark’ for 100+ children who did not know they had the talent to code,” said Sherrie Snipes Williams, CEO, Charleston Promise Neighborhood. “Our students have created scavenger hunts and smartphone apps and programmed robots, while working with incredible and talented Blackbaud volunteers. Thank you, Blackbaud, for the opportunity to influence our students and help them see what's possible for their futures and to encourage them to dream big!”
This reflection from one of our students at James Simons Elementary School sums it up:
“It was my very first time going to Camp Blackbaud. I was so excited when we got there. I never knew what it was going to be like. Everyone waiting by the doors was very welcoming. The building was very big and beautiful. I also loved the counselors. I enjoyed being around them. I had a good time laughing with them and talking about my future job. I liked the lunch they served because it was way better than our school lunch. I enjoyed building and programming the robot with my group. The only thing I would change about it is...I would want it to be much longer than two days. I would want it to be at least five days! I really loved it!”
At Blackbaud, we believe the world will be a better place when good takes over—and it’s important that we serve as a catalyst for our people to engage in their communities. Camp Blackbaud is just one way we give back through sharing the skills we use every day as professionals. We know, through the work we do with the social good sector every day, that sharing knowledge and expertise is a fabulous way to invest in our community.