When Melissa Sariffodeen, Heather Payne, Breanna Hughes and Laura Plant, co-founders of Ladies of Learning Code, started hosting coding workshops six years ago, they didn’t realize how popular their programs would be. Building on their success, they launched Girls Learning Code, Kids Learning Code, Teens Learning Code, and Teachers Learning Code, a series of initiatives meant to foster technical computing skills and shape future studies. But even with this impressive expansion, there was still much more work to be done.

“It’s been clear to us for a while now that we were only scratching the surface of what was possible and that there were still millions of Canadians untouched by our programs that need access to critical technology skills,” writes Sarriffodeen.

Lack of access has created a talent gap that, as outlined by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)’s national digital talent strategy, could result in a $27.3 billion loss in Canada’s GDP.

To address the issue, Canada Learning Code (CLC) was created. Branded as a vision for the future of Canada, the charitable initiative seeks to empower teachers to deliver curricula that reflect the changing needs of the tech industry. The CLC prepares youth to work in a sector that is consistently adding jobs, ensures access to underserved communities, promotes government innovation that relies on digital solutions and ensures jobs are filled by a diverse set of workers with the necessary skills.

One way the CLC is achieving its mission is through Canada Learning Code Week. From June 1 to 8th, Canadians are invited to participate in free beginner-friendly coding lessons that celebrate the country’s history happening in their local schools, libraries, museums, friendship centres and other community hubs. The coding lessons have been designed for youth but anyone can participate or teach a class. CLC will equip traditional and nontraditional educators with the skills they need to bring these digital stories to life and, on July 1, the organization will launch an online scrapbook of student projects that celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial.

For those looking for additional ways to participate in Canada Learning Code Week, the CLC is building a team of volunteers who have a passion for technology to act as mentors and assist educators and learners during the workshops.