The city of Mission will be one of the sites throughout the country of a coding camp for young women launched by model Karlie Kloss, whose program, “Kode with Klossy,” sought to expand its reach this year.

The Kode with Klossy program began in 2015, holding two-week coding camps at various cities throughout the country and this year, for the first time, they will be hosting one of the camps in the Rio Grande Valley.

“Kode with Klossy just generally this year in 2020 was looking to expand its footprint,” said Helena Suric, a spokesperson for the program who added that this year, they will be in 27 different locations.

“Something that we specifically like to do is to create access to this free opportunity to young women who may otherwise not have similar, comparable opportunity,” Suric said. “So this year we sought to also expand beyond just the large metropolitan areas that we’ve been in in past years and we wanted to focus on a few smaller cities.”

“With Mission specifically, we have a strong partnership with Teach for America and they have really strong boots on the ground there. So knowing that one of our partners was already there and could provide additional support was kind of a key factor in expanding there,” she said.

The offices for Teach for America – Rio Grande Valley are located in Mission’s Center for Education and Economic Development.

The two-week camp, which will be held in Mission from June 15 to 26, is available to girls ages 13 to 18, is free of charge and doesn’t require any prior knowledge of a coding curricula.

To participate, applicants are asked to share why they would like to learn how to code. If selected, the instructors cram a semester’s worth of programming into those two weeks.

“They can go from a place where they’ve never coded before to exiting at the end of those two weeks with a minimum viable product — either a website or a mobile app — that they’ve built with their classmates at camp and which they demo to their friends and family on the last day,” Suric said.

That final project, which is the focus of the last two-and-a-half days of camp, can be anything they’re passionate about, Suric said, from apps to encourage recycling to websites that encourage literacy.

But before they begin working on those final projects, the “scholars,” as they’re called, concentrate on two custom curriculum modules: web applications — which focuses on building web-based software with JavaScript, HTML and CSS — and mobile applications development.

There are also different add-on activities including an “Inspirational Women in Technology” speaker series.

Each camp accepts 26 participants and is led by two-trained teachers as well as two instructor assistants who are alumnae of the program.

Now that they’re five years out since their launch, Suric said they’re able to see some of the program’s impact.

“When scholars enter our camps, very few of them have prior knowledge of computer science — around one in five have any kind of prior exposure to coding or something comparable,” she said. “By the time that our scholars generally leave camp, nine in 10 leave expressing a desire to want to continue to learn something in the technology field.”

She added that they were able to conduct a survey of their alumnae which showed that 40% are currently in a university and of those, 65% chose to either major or minor in computer science or engineering.

“Compared to the nationwide average of 3%, (it’s) a really impactful thing to see and probably one of the most amazing things that we’ve seen come out of the program.”

Applications for the RGV/Mission camp are now open and are due no later than April 5 at 10:59 p.m.