Students with Special Needs Tackle Coding

New pilot program teaches invaluable tech career skills

Sep 08, 2014, 06:00 ET from The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With an increase of coding initiatives sweeping the nation, one group in particular stands to benefit from technology centric new economy skills education: students with special needs.

Joining the coding movement this fall are twenty-six motivated ninth graders at the Kayne Eras Center in Culver City, a program of the Exceptional Children's Foundation. The first-of-its-kind coding academy, funded by The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation (20MM), will provide an immersive experience to students with special needs, connecting them with technology and special educational services, which are not offered in traditional school settings. 

The initiative was spurred by research pointing to both the need and benefit of coding for students with disabilities. Reports estimate that one million coding and computing jobs will go unfilled in the United States by 2020. Students with special needs can help fill these positions, educators have found that, as a result of their unique abilities, students with special needs are engaged and motivated at a higher level when technology is used in the classroom. This interest extends to those who attend college, where 16 percent of students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder choose computer science as their major, compared to a 7 percent rate for the general population.

It is these promising statistics that drove 20MM to fund the initiative. "This pilot is a unique opportunity to infuse a special education curriculum with computer science lessons that will allow instructors to provide highly adaptable learning and practical skill sets for all learners," said Dean Florez, President of 20MM. "Together with our partners, we hope to provide students with invaluable new economy skills."

With the support of high quality teachers and the CodeHS program, students in the Academy will learn content equivalent to an introductory college course in Computer Science five days a week in a classroom setting.

"CodeHS is incredibly excited to work with ECF, 20MM and Kayne Eras students and teachers this year," said CodeHS co-founder Zach Galant.  "This partnership represents a great opportunity to provide students with critical opportunities to expand and grow a vital skill set.  We are thrilled to welcome these three impactful organizations into the CodeHS community and look forward to working together this year and into the future."

Students in the academy will be supported by passionate teachers and leadership thrilled to bring the unique opportunity to its campus.  

"With coding recognized as a critical skill for the emerging workplace, quality coding education at the high school level provides advantages to students who aim to attend college or enter the workforce. 20MM and CodeHS are our valued partners in being at the forefront of bringing Coding Education to our talented and capable young men and women with learning challenges," said Dr. Jason Bolton, Vice President of Children and Family Programs at the Exceptional Children's Foundation. "I am confident that our students will leave ECF Kayne Eras School with well-developed critical thinking abilities and a highly-marketable skill set necessary to become successful members of their digital generation."

The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing higher education into the digital age through public and private partnerships that increase access, affordability, and student success. This is the first program to launch as part of 20MM's Tech Careers Initiative. Also launching this fall is Project #CodeTruck – a coding tour that invites students aboard a mobile computer lab for introductory coding lessons in select California cities. 20MM and its initiatives are made possible by the generous support of Dr. Gary Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. Visit, follow us @20MillionMinds, and subscribe to our videos on the Michelson 20 Million Minds YouTube Channel.

Exceptional Children's Foundation (ECF) provides the highest quality services for children and adults who are challenged with developmental, learning and emotional disabilities – empowering them to reach their greatest potential. Each year, ECF serves 3,200 clients and their families at 15 sites throughout Los Angeles County. ECF is the only organization of its kind in California to provide a lifespan of services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. To learn more, visit and connect on Facebook at

CodeHS is a program for teaching intro computer science in high schools and learning at home. Its mission is to expand computer science education by providing engaging curricula and online content, professional development, tools, and resources to help teachers, and a supportive online community of experts, educators, and learners.  CodeHS works with hundreds of schools around the U.S. and internationally to start and strengthen high quality computer science programs.  Learn more at or follow us @codehs.

Contact: Amanda Abraham (323) 863-5244

Other Media Contacts:
Debbie Laskey, MBA
Director of Marketing & Communications
Exceptional Children's Foundation
(310) 845-8067

Max Magnuson
(650) 492-0617

SOURCE The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation