Melissa Sariffodeen – Canada Learning Code

In 2011, Melissa Sariffodeen had quit a job in accounting and had set out on a path to learn some digital skills in order to be competitive in the current job market.  She was surprised by the limited avenues for accessing this education.  In hopes of addressing this issue, Melissa and three of her friends hosted a brainstorming session to explore this idea.  What was supposed to be a few people chatting in a coffee shop turned into an 80-person session.  That session also highlighted the gender gap in the technology sector in their hometown of Toronto as well as the lack of introductory-level opportunities to learn to code.  Melissa and her friends took what they had learned and set forth to create a path for women who wanted to explore this industry.  Ladies Learning Code was born and the team launched their first workshop in the spring of 2011, it sold out in a day.  The hunger for this type of programming was obvious.

Melissa launched Ladies Learning Code chapters all over the country and now in 2019, there are 36 chapters cities.  Since that first workshop in 2011, Canada Learning Code, no a nationally registered charity and has hosted over 2800 educational events, reaching in excess of 106,950 learning across Canada.

“At Canada learning Code we believe that digital skills are tools of empowerment. The world is changing com and we want Canada to be ready. We’re here to make sure that all Canadians – Particularly women, girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth, and newcomers to Canada have access to the knowledge they need to prosper in our digital world.” (Canada Learning Code, 2019)

Melissa’s vision has also expanded.  The organization began as Ladies Learning Code with a goal to get more women into the tech sector but it has evolved over the years to a place where all Canadians are included.   Creating a space for “all Canadians to have the knowledge to create not just consume technology.”  Canada Learning Code now has programs designed for women, girls, kids, teens and teachers.  They even have a mobile computer lab that travels coast to coast bring tech education to rural communities without access to a chapter, called the CodeMobile.

Over the years, Melissa’s passion for the integration of technology and education has resulted in partnerships with the Google, Microsoft and Government of Canada.   Melissa has met with education officials across Canada to bring awareness to the need for the inclusion of digital literacy into the k-12 curriculum.

Melissa’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissasariffodeen/

Melissa’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/melsariffodeen

Melissa’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/melsariffodeen/

Sariffodeen, M. [TEDx Talks]. (2017, Jan 18). The Kids Will Be Alright | Melissa Sariffodeen | TEDxYouth@Toronto. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IRoTk-iKPE&t=405s

Sariffodeen, M. [Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics]. (2017, Mar 25). Melissa Sariffodeen explains how to hack your future. [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6EdrW4wH-s&t=57s

Canada Learning Code: About Us (2019) Retrieved from https://www.canadalearningcode.ca/about-us/

5 Replies to “Melissa Sariffodeen – Canada Learning Code”

  1. Thank you for introducing us to such an amazing person Christina! Melissa’s dedication to her work, and commitment to Canadians is inspiring. I’m looking forward to learning more about her.
    Cheers
    Sue

  2. Thank you for posting this introduction! I find it interesting that Melissa started out wanting to get more women into the field of writing code, and it turned into more Canadians! I think that’s great! The more we Canadians are our there the better!!

    I’ve always admired people who have the courage to quit their jobs to start their next adventure. That takes a level of commitment to their idea that I have never possessed. I guess I play it too safe to take that kind of leap.

    Kathy

  3. This is awesome! I’ve seen posters around my workplace and I’ve always been interested in going in and trying it out. It’s great to know more about the organization and its founder, Melissa. I know there’s also an organization called “Girls who Code” that focuses on teaching girls in schools to code in the US, and they’ve been steadily expanding and gaining traction on a more global level. This is a useful skill to have, but also bringing together a group of ladies and forming a community is even more powerful!

  4. Hi Christina,
    I enjoyed your post! I remember this happening as I was working in the Technology sector and with a lot of startup companies at the time. It was a such a big movement!

    ~Leigha

  5. Thanks for the great introduction to Melissa Sariffodeen, Christina! Canada Learning Code is doing some great work across Canada! Wow. VERY COOL. I have now followed Sariffodeen on Twitter and I am going to do some more research about their efforts and events here in Toronto!

    Thanks,
    Leigh

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