A couple of months ago I saw a message posted by Jeremy Iggers on the MSP WordPress Users Google Group. He was asking for volunteers to get involved with a project aimed at teaching WordPress to inner-city teens. I’m a WordPress devotee and since I’m semi-retired, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to give back to the community, so I threw my hat in the ring. I twisted my friend Beth Backen’s arm to join us, because she’s a community minded person, a resident of North Minneapolis (our original target area), and because I knew she would bring a lot to the project. We were joined by educator and community activist Lanise Block, founder and Executive Director of the Digital Empowerment Academy.
We started planning in August with the idea of getting a class going in North Minneapolis sometime in the fall, but funding and time started to make it look like we might not be able to get things revved up that quickly. Then we got the good news. Jeremy had applied for a Greenline Challenge Grant, funding projects in St. Paul’s Central Corridor, from the Knight Foundation, and we were finalists! We made the decision to wait to see if we got a grant, giving us some more time to get ready and even better, some funding. Everything went on hold until the grant winners were announced. And we were among them!
The plan is to teach our students how to build websites on the WordPress.com platform, and then pair them with local businesses that need websites, but haven’t had the resources to build them. Of course the first class will involve very simple, theme based sites, but I envision an advanced program where we start to get into self hosted sites, customization and coding. My role will be creating the curriculum, with lots of help from the team and being the lead instructor. It’s going to be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it and with the great people I’m working with I know it’s going to be not only successful, but rewarding, and probably most importantly, fun.