Tech start-up launches coding program at Sunset Park school

December 3, 2019 Meaghan McGoldrick
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SUNSET PARK — A group of Sunset Park students are learning how to code through a new partnership with an Industry City-based tech company.

Through TradeZero America, sixth graders at Charles O. Dewey Middle School are getting three hours per week of coding instruction, making use of computers and tech-savvy teachers commissioned by the company.

TradeZero America, an online broker, offers retail investors commission-free stock trading. “[We are] doing the coding program to be good corporate citizens and to give back to our community,” company co-founder Dan Pipitone told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We believe that kids may not have the access or the opportunity to learn coding, so we thought it a great place for us to start.”

The coding class. Photo: Boucher + Co.

Pipitone, who has led successful stock start-ups for two decades, hopes Dewey students will finish out the program with a better sense of the three major computer languages and, in turn, take away skills that companies like his often look for in new hires.

“The thought behind this program was that it would be a three-year program, with coursework that would get progressively more intense as the students moved from year to year,” Pipitone explained. “The goal is to have the students graduate being highly proficient in web technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript.”

The Brooklyn native and father of two has a personal stake in the program, as well as a business one. “As a technology entrepreneur who grew up in Brooklyn and makes my home here, I wanted to give back to the community,” Pipitone said. The response, he said, has been “pretty awesome.”

“Our first class had 12 students in it, which consisted of 11 girls and one boy,” the co-founder said. “As a parent of two little girls who is trying to encourage them with coding, it was great to see that many young women take interest in a male-dominated field.”

Women make up just 11 percent of the web developer workforce, according to recent data on 2018-2019 from the Pearson Frank Java and PHP Salary Survey.

Another global survey of developers conducted by Stack Overflow in 2017 found that of 18,770 participants polled, about 72 percent of those surveyed were white. According to New York City Department of Education data, more than 90 percent of Dewey’s student body in the 2017-2018 school year was made up of nonwhite students.

Dewey Principal Amanda Bueno said the partnership has been a great match thus far. “At Dewey, students study a hands-on, project-based curriculum using career readiness standards that encourages students to be leaders in their personal and public lives,” she said. “TradeZero America is working in partnership with us to enhance the student experience, prepare students for their future careers, and help us to create tomorrow’s leaders.”

Next year, TradeZero America hopes to grow the program to also include seventh graders. If successful, the company hopes to expand to other schools in the future.

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