Exploring Life & Business with Meka Egwuekwe of CodeCrew
JANUARY 25, 2022
Today we’d like to introduce you to Meka Egwuekwe.
Hi Meka, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story. CodeCrew was founded in May 2015 by Petya Grady, Audrey Willis, and myself with funding from the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation to mentor and teach middle and high school kids at the Lester Community Center in the Binghampton neighborhood how to create mobile apps over the course of six weeks in the summer.
This successful summer camp evolved into an after-school program during the school year, and has now grown into a multi-faceted organization CodeCrew is today serving kids and adults, in-school and out-of-school, plus teacher training and policy work.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road? CodeCrew has been fortunate in that most people immediately see the value of bringing quality computer science education to underrepresented kids and adults.
However, given that Memphis’s largest demographics are those most underrepresented in computer science and tech, the challenge is huge to build a larger community of tech producers such that Memphis can begin to benefit from the prosperity that comes with strong tech ecosystems.
This is a struggle at every level, especially with perceptions and stereotypes about who can be contributors to tech.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about CodeCrew? CodeCrew is a Memphis-based nonprofit that teaches computer science to kids and adults, especially those from underrepresented groups. Our work is in six key areas:
– Direct teaching and mentoring through K-12 in-school electives. – Direct teaching and mentoring through K-12 after-school and summer programs. – Training K-12 teachers to teach computer science in schools. – Executing exposure events such as hackathons and the Hour of Code. – Advocating for computer science education legislation at the state and local levels. – Training adults to become entry-level software engineers through a six-month coding boot camp called Code School.
We work with about 2,000 kids per week in our K-12 programming and work with many dozen adults each year through our Bootcamp offerings. With our multi-layered approach, CodeCrew is the single most comprehensive computer science education organization in the country today.
What were you like growing up? My mother was a single mother raising two boys in an economically challenged South Memphis neighborhood called Castalia. As a 10-year-old boy in 1983, I asked my mother for a home computer for Christmas, and she made a miracle happen for me to get one. I played games on it until I got bored enough to crack open the book on how to program it.
I learned how to make my name move across the screen, which to me was a big deal because computers back then were plugged into the home television, and my unusual name was one that was never on TV. I joined user groups and bulletin board systems and became active in the wider tech community.
I played the trumpet in school and eventually learned how to use computers to make music as well, forming a music group in high school with some friends, with all our songs driven by my computer and a MIDI keyboard. I eventually studies computer science in college (Morehouse) and grad school (Duke), before starting my career as a software engineer.
Check out the Memphis Voyager article here