Round the world with Young Rewired State {Everywhere}

Last year and earlier this year I blogged about wanting to run Young Rewired State around the world. This was in response to so many people from other countries getting in touch and saying how much they needed something similar to happen where they lived. To recap, for those who don’t know, this is what Young Rewired State is all about:

YRS is an independent global network of kids aged 18 and under who have taught themselves to program computers. We introduce these children to like-minded peers at events around the world where they use freely available open data to make websites, apps and algorithms to solve real world challenges

As you can see we have already included the fact that it is about a global community, and this is down to the success we have had in this year of experimentation beyond the shores of the UK.

We have been blown away by the joy and excitement experienced by the young people who have come to the events we have run, and the remarkable similarities between what these children create, learn and value from becoming a part of this community, and taking part in these events.

Here are a couple of videos from the events we ran in New York City and in Berlin earlier this year:

And if you cannot speak German, then switch on captions to watch this one:

You can read the round-up from both events here and here, and in November we are running an event with GitHub in San Francisco, details here

YRS{E} in 2014

We have learned a *lot* during the process of planning, partnering and running these events around the world, and have now come up with a scalable plan for 2014, again we will see if it works before rolling it out beyond 2014; but here is how we see it working…

There will be two options for running a YRS event where you live:

Option 1

If you are an organisation that is used to running hack-style events, then we would provide you with a pack detailing how to run a YRS event, create a registration page and microsite on our website for registering the young people and mentors and an MOU on how the event should be run, our values and our brand guidelines.

We will alert the worldwide young coding community when and where the event is taking place, and provide social media cover during the weekend.

This would not have a cost associated with it, but you would need to raise local sponsorship to cover event costs like venue, food, AV/wifi, publicity and prizes.

There will be options to get more from us, like weekly skype calls and community reach to young programmers, but these would incur a small charge in order to cover the central staff costs and time.

Option 2

We would work with partners in-country to assist with full delivery of the event, and would fly out a team for the week to actually run it. This would be a far more hands-on partnership for us with the regional teams and would suit those organisations who want to host a local Young Rewired State event, but are not used to running hack events.

This would carry a fixed cost of £20,000 for the work the dedicated central team will do, and include all costs including flights, accommodation, food etc. In addition to this fee, you would still need to raise local sponsorship to cover event costs like venue, food, AV/wifi, publicity and prizes.

America and Europe

As we have successfully run these events this year in America and Europe, we are also looking at raising central funding in the form of Grants, partnerships and central sponsorship that may well enable us to cover some of the costs ourselves; and so the above two options would become cheaper or even free, over time and in certain regions.

The Festival of Code

At each event we have run, the young people all expressed a desire, no an absolute need, to take part in the annual Festival of Code, run every year in the first full week of August. We are currently looking at the logistics of doing this, so watch this space – we will have worked it out by the time we are in San Francisco, and I will of course blog about it!

I shall leave the last words with Nadine (a YRSer from New York) and Ashley (a mentor from Code for America)

Want to run Young Rewired State where you are?

Contact hello@youngrewiredstate.org and speak to either myself, Kait or Ruth about what happens next…

Young Rewired State – Festival of Code 1st round up

This is a long video post – go make tea first…

“It can make a grown man cry” is the repeated phrase I keep reading and hearing. Here’s why…

What we do at the Young Rewired State (YRS) Festival of Code is we invite all kids in the UK who can code, with a basic entry level of editing HTML all the way through to the veterans of code (aged 18 and under), to a week long hack event/festival. We then call out for centres and mentors and we find places with wifi and software developers (including our own Rewired State devs) across the country to host them for a week and get them to Birmingham. Then we invite them to build a web/mobile app, write an algorithm, anything they want to do is fine, so long as they use at least one piece of open data.

It makes people cry for the following reasons:

  • YRS staff cry because kids do not read email and so we have to invent great ways to ensure they know what to expect (cue Twilio)
  • the audience cries when they see what these kids have built in a week
  • the tech/wifi/power people cry because they have no idea how to cope with delivery of an event for 1000 kids where each one turns up needing connection and power for at least two digital devices, not so they can tweet and facebook, but because they need to keep on coding and downloading data for three days and nights…
  • the YRSers cry because we cannot yet meet their tech requirements at the Festival, but we will hack our way towards a solution, care of the determination of the lovely Steve (who runs Rewired State in Australia alongside his wife: Jec) but always flies in like a super hero to rescue tech companies at the Festival

It is this last reason for weeping that stands as testament to why Young Rewired State and the Festival is important. Here is a back stage view of the people who help make it happen:

The world of industry and entrepreneurs is also at a loss as to how to find suitably skilled graduates and interns. And the education system is scratching its head about how to create a load more, in line with the opportunities and work available, and the growth of expectations in digital citizenship (a whole new ballgame as we are beginning to see).

Learning to code is not about being the mechanic in the digital world, it is being the driver – as opposed to passenger

I give you a whole YouTube channel of kids from 5 to 18 who are the next generation of programmers and designers here

And some highlights in video:

Girls:

Centres and mentors:

Other YRS participants of all ages:

George is a bit of a hero, check out his channel

Also Zac and the rest…

Press (we get a lot of coverage, here is some video footage)

BBC Breakfast TV because of advertising laws they could not mention who we were but all this is filmed at YRS2013

Five Live Outriders Podcast

BBC Midlands (live) from 15.45mins in – I know I point at a completely empty street, I am an idiot

We were on the radio a lot, and we had a tonne of newspaper coverage proper newspapers, we were in The Times and the Evening Standard and are going to be in the Guardian and The Observer this week

Here is Howard, from the BBC centre we had in Manchester:

Here is a parent:

We had a lot of stuff going on including talks, robots, chiptune artists, amazing sponsors thinking of clever ways to engage with the kids, including ice cream…  you can watch the entire weekend on the recorded live stream all on the Friday night before presentations.

Photos are here and here

Sign up for next year’s festival , and YRS Hyperlocal and check our YRS Everywhere

Finally (for this post – I will defo be doing more), the thank you video:

Help! We have coding kids and missing centres

Dear all,

The Festival of Code is hotting up and we have hundreds of kids signing up across the UK. There are a couple of places where we have young programmers but no centre to go to, so please could you check to see if you live in the regions and whether you have any idea who might be able to host at least three young coders during the week of the 5th to the 11th August this Summer. The regions we need are:

Glasgow

Leeds

Northampton/Leicester/Peterborough (we can use a centre in any of these places)

The Wirral

Reading/Bath/Southampton

Wales <- preferably Cardiff but anywhere really

Here is a link to information for centres so that you can see what is required

Thank you thank you

 

Calling all bedroom programmers

Young Rewired State (YRS) this year (5) is growing. The community is growing and the strength of that community is becoming the most important thing to every child who is currently, or has been, a part of YRS. We have never tried to falsely nurture this and we have never exploited it, and never will.

To this end we have never sought to be *funded*, to have expectations set in order to achieve imagined gains in return for easy money. Instead we have worked hard to prove ourselves worthy of sponsorship, to receive the hard-won CSR budget or few extra pounds and dollars people may have, to help us cover the costs of what we do. None of us earn very much! But we are all very happy in what we do.

This year we have secured enough sponsorship (thank you to our wonderful sponsors) to welcome 1000 kids for free, any child aged 18 or under with a desire to learn or extend their skills is welcome in 60 centres across the UK, ending with a free weekend at the Custard Factory in Birmingham, a Festival that has attracted speakers giving up their time for free from across the globe who will chat informally on steps and in gardens to any UK child who wants to ask a question. We have superstars coming – soon to be announced.

Conrad Wolfram, Izzy Lawrence and Dallas Campbell will be there to celebrate their achievements during the week, and Rosy Cheeks Productions will capture it all on film.

What I would like to ask now, is for your help. Our sponsorship covers costs for food, water, chairs (insanely expensive for some reason), venue and a small hardship fund. We do not have funds for going into schools, for PR and the like – and so I am calling on the network.

All we need is for every child who needs to be there, to be a part of this, to know about the opportunity. We don’t care about numbers, if only 10 kids turn up, then ten kids get a lot of food, but we want those ten kids to find us and the 1000+ community already here.

We do not ask you for money, we ask you to look to your own friends and family, and spot those bedroom programmers, the kids who are forever on their computers, tell their parents or their friends, put fliers and posters up in their schools – actively make it so that they cannot fail to see what we are offering, and then let them decide. This last half of the school term is the perfect time and I will go and speak in schools if it helps.

To reiterate, this is *not* a numbers game – but we really want to find them all and we want to celebrate them for a week and introduce them to a community of their peers, to encourage them to keep their head in the game (with no High School Musical songs).

Please help. Here is a page with a leaflet and a poster https://youngrewiredstate.org/festival-of-code/poster-and-leaflet. Please download them and print them and share them, in schools/libraries/your work/your mates (don’t second guess peoples’ passions)

Thank you (from me personally too – please help! I know we are missing some of these kids and even if we need to accommodate more, I will find the money)

The deep link to the Festival of Code is here https://youngrewiredstate.org/festival-of-code

Young Rewired State Year 5: Everywhere and Hyperlocal

So the time has come when we are all itching for more Young Rewired State, and interestingly it seems that year 4-5 of this thing is when it all starts to get local. As you know, we like to try stuff to see if it works and so here is a very brief outline of the plans as we stand today, (PLANS, not definites… we are still testing ideas):

YRS in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
Historically we have struggled to get centres and kids in these areas, mainly because we need to do more to raise awareness of YRS rather than there not being any kids who could take part. So we are planning on running three separate hack weekends on open local government data for 50 kids in each place, emulating what we did in England in 2009 at Google – the beginning of YRS.

The first is being run in Scotland: http://rewiredstate.org/hacks/yrs-scotland-2012 and we are working out Wales right now and Northern Ireland will likely be a collaboration with Maggie Philbin and Teentech.

  • if you would like to assist with the organisation of any of these three weekends, please let me know


YRS UK local

We now have 42 centres across the UK, some slightly bamboozled, but those who are in their 2nd or 3rd year of being a centre are well-established and seeing a need to foster the local coding youth community beyond the annual event, both through the centre and with Ben (Nunney)’s community management offerings to all of the YRSers.

We are also looking at how these kids can work together on local community projects, or not – just things that interest them – and would like to see the centres be involved in this.

Please bear with us as we take our time to get this right. We have managed to nut years 1-4, we just need to work out year 5 and then we can rinse and repeat, for everyone.

YRS Worldwide

The idea has always been to find and foster every kid who is driven to teach themselves how to code, and this does not limit us to the UK. For a few years now we have received messages from people overseas keen to run their own YRS events. So in 2013 we are launching YRS Everywhere. We are going to run weekends (again for 50 kids using local open government data) in the following places:

  • Estonia
  • Berlin
  • New York
  • Amsterdam
  • Kenya
  • plus one other wild card (we have a few options here you see)

We will replicate the method of scale we used in the UK, moving from weekend to week, to multiple centres and finally hyper-local, year on year – all the time connecting these young coders to each other, in a very light way, maintaining the worldwide mentoring model used to date. We have no idea how this will work out, but we have begun chats with local developer networks who will act as foster networks for the youngsters, and open government data people in country, and the response has been wildly enthusiastic.

  • If any of you have contacts in any of these countries, please do hook me up with them, I would like to tie everything together as much as I can

Money – how are we paying for this?

Firstly it is important to clarify that my intention is not to build an organisation and flog it for millions. The idea is that this thing will be built and will grow and grow and grow, goodness knows where it will take us all but I would still like to be doing this when I am 90, and I would like to still be doing this with you all. I find that more exciting than being rich for a few years then sad and lonely…

We run YRS on a sponsor model, covering costs by trading what we actually have (access to young programming minds to test kit or raise brand awareness to a new generation) but not selling databases or IP. Obviously I have given up work now and we have a small team who run YRS and Rewired State (Rewired State being a profit-making social enterprise), we are paid through money made on RS hack days and through pieces of consultancy. YRS will continue to run on a NfP model, as we grow so we will need to raise more money to cover our ambition, but we are not shackled to a VC because we are not building a business to sell – we are creating a network that will continue to grow and hopefully gainfully employ more and more people and be rewarding and energising – because we have no flipping idea what is actually going to happen, and have the freedom to do this.

And so we work very closely with our chosen sponsors every year to both get the cash we need to run this thing and to get them the results they need in order to donate actual money to us. It is a fine line but we work hard to get it right (nearly there!).

We intend to find a single main partner for Young Rewired State: Everywhere, as SAP were for us in the 2012 Festival of Code. We will find a model that combines local, in-country sponsorship, combined with our main partner sponsor.

In addition to this we will continue to run ‘for profit’ Rewired State hack days to support central costs.

The only way we can scale to find every single kid driven to teach themselves how to code, is to avoid obvious limitations. There is not going to be any single group that rises to the top as an outright winner from YRS, everyone will benefit, but every person involved can choose how they shape their involvement in YRS – it totally will be what you make of it.

I know I am in it for life and I am going to dedicate myself to making it great and worldwide. Young developers will take the network and make friends for life, build businesses, create the next bazillion dollar thing. Mentors will become worldwide mentors helping young people from all backgrounds, maybe even working with them to create something world-changing. Centres will find their own local coding youth and will hold the ability to shape that relationship and hone those skills for the greater good, or for their own. The Rewired State team work together to boldly go wherever, to try stuff, test and be brave, with a small cushion (a very small cushion) of financial stability. It is what we all make of it.

But I do not believe in death by committee. I never have but flirted with it in the early days of this social enterprise and it failed. I plan to lead this thing and forge ahead with as much support as I can muster and see how far we get. A time will come when what we are doing becomes irrelevant, at that point I will get a new job.

  • if any of you know of any potential sponsors or partners for any of this, please let me know

 

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