This is my fifth year of working with the UK-based Apps for Good program, and it’s incredible to see how the program has grown from a handful of schools and perhaps a hundred or so kids to hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of students taking part just a few short years later. The evolution has been fun to watch, with many significant lessons learned.
- When I first was asked to serve as an ambassador for the London Tech City project, I worked with the British government to help revise the school ICT curriculum. Within three years, we saw a complete overhaul in England, so now, every child entering school today will know how to program in at least two languages by the time they are 11! Again…what were you doing at 11?
- Apps for Good itself initially started with a focus on coding but evolved into an organization designed to produce entrepreneurs —coding is now one component. I think this is one of the reasons that the program continues to stand out for its 50/50 split of diversity between boys and girls in the program: There is something to interest every student, whether design, business models, coding, or marketing. All of these elements are crucial to entrepreneurship, and kids are exposed to every piece of it.
- Great ideas come from everywhere. Wick High School in Northeast Scotland has produced finalists for the annual awards every year with winners over the last three years. Great teachers, programs, and terrific ideas are more important to innovation than your postal code.
- In my role at Thomson Reuters as Head of Applied Innovation, I get to see a lot of product ideas and know there are millions of apps available in the market. Every year, I am surprised (though by now I shouldn’t be) at the fact that kids come up with things that no one has imagined before. Last year’s winner in our category, ‘I’m Okay,’ proved just that. I had never come across an authoritative solution for LGBT teens, and what the girls at Stratford Girls Grammar School came up with was an idea I knew could win if executed.
- For the past three years, we have been bringing kids into Thomson Reuters for work placement and internships. This by far is one of the best parts of the program. I think the kids are enthusiastic about the vibe and energy of our employees and the collaborative atmosphere. On an exciting note, most of the students have been girls as well, and the more we can do to encourage girls to take look at us (or any technology company for that matter), the more we can hope to achieve a more diverse workforce; which is a win for everyone!
I look forward to our continued partnership with Apps for Good, not only because it’s a great organization and an excellent program for students, but because personally, I have the privilege of working directly with tomorrow’s powerhouse innovators.