Code Write Draw focuses on the Hero’s Journey and challenges students to create a journey of their own. Students build their foundational math skills, as they create a video game and write an original novella based on the Hero’s Journey.

We have all heard the stories of grit and resilience of people with no resources and many challenges overcoming the odds and achieving amazing feats. Michael Jordon, J.K. Rowling, and Einstein come to mind. What if we could create experiences that provide more deserving students the opportunity to build their resilience and vision for a future of achievement? For the past 18 years we have focused on foundational literacy and math intervention because strong foundational skills are the most important asset a child can have and are the keys to unlocking all other knowledge. In that time, we have come to see that skill building is necessary but insufficient to dramatically alter the trajectory of struggling students. For middle school students with poor foundational skills, the prospects are especially dire. But what if we could change their trajectory by focusing on foundational skill building and fostering a drive for continuous learning? What if we could create transformational learning experiences that inspire students to seek learning opportunities after their journey with us ends?

We can answer this question because we have seen students have this extraordinary experience. Three years ago, we looked critically at our programs and asked ourselves how we could foster a growth mindset in students and generate an enthusiasm for learning that permeates the students’ experience during the school day and at home. We began to focus in a deliberate way on the Hero’s Journey. The hero imbues a growth mindset, even if the hero is not conscious of doing so. Given the power of story and the power of our students’ and families’ stories, we started designing our programs to include the stages of the Hero’s Journey and the exploration of these stages as the students are building their skills. The result was that our programs, students and families changed in a powerful way.

Our Video Game Design and Novella Writing Program is the culmination of these efforts. In this program, we focus on the Hero’s Journey and challenge the students to create a journey of their own. Students build their foundational math skills, as they create a video game and write an original novella based on the Hero’s Journey. They use industry standard digital tools to build their games and create their artwork. Last year students at Solano Middle School created a video game with a narrative and also created a story and artwork based on the stages of the Hero’s Journey. The outcomes of this program were outstanding. The middle school participants mastered foundational math skills in 16% of the time of the previous year.  In addition, these low performing students improved their attitude about writing by 65%. Thirty-five percent of parents noticed this change at home.

We are now trying to make this experience available to more deserving young people because we believe that experiences like this can transform lives. We need your help. We need donations to bring this experience to six middle schools in the Bay Area who don’t have the funds for the program. We also need industry volunteers for our shop talks (where you share your own hero’s journey with our students) and as judges in our exhibition at the conclusion of the program. A typical coding camp costs $500 - $1200 a week or more for middle school students. Our program delivers a quality coding experience and so much more. It cost $1400 a student for the full one-month program.

We have provided targeted, motivational and data rich academic support programs to more than 25,000 students, including motivational coding classes for underserved students. We believe that struggling students can blossom when they have an opportunity to build coding skills in the context of a larger goal and when they are simultaneously given the opportunity to build their foundational math skills. Join us in providing an immersive and positive academic experience that can tangibly improve skills and fundamentally change a student’s school experience and academic trajectory. 

Help us serve our mission to create transformational learning experiences by building tangible skills in a motivational learning environment. We contribute by creating experiences that build skills and nurture a growth mindset.  We do so by combining two contrasting strategies: fierce commitment to tangible, discrete skills in the context of a boundless and imaginative personal hero’s journey.  We focus on building mastery of foundational skills through deliberate practice and create a vision of a hero’s journey to inspire and give meaning to the toil of skill building.