Helping youth reach their full potential is a priority for United Way.  CODEanagan is a barrier-free tech program for disadvantaged youth.

Through learning and mentorship on subjects ranging from audio engineering and video game development to Android app development, CODEanagan will ignite imagination and aspiration among a group of young people who wouldn’t typically believe they could pursue a future in tech.

2020 Update – Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, all bootcamps have been postponed until Winter 2020.

The Need

Accelerate Okanagan estimates that on any given day, 100 tech positions in Kelowna need to be filled, many requiring coding skills. Techstars, a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, recently conducted an analysis on the maturity of the tech industry in the Okanagan. The report concluded that the number one risk for the tech sector is lack of talent and skills required to support growth.

Among Centennials, aptitude for technology is at an all-time high; however, many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are not exposed to training and career opportunities in the tech sector. They simply don’t believe it is a route that is open to them. In addition, many of these young people do not follow a traditional learning path and may require additional supports to help them succeed.

The Challenge

The challenges for youth in the Okanagan are significant and contribute to under-representation

and challenges accessing the digital economy.

Our Goals

  • To build confidence and aspiration among youth facing barriers to participation in the digital economy
  • To develop the fundamental digital literacy skills needed to pursue a career in the tech sector
  • To raise awareness of opportunities in the tech sector among excluded or disadvantaged groups

The Initiative

CODEanagan will provide disadvantaged youth, age 16-22, access to range of opportunities designed to build confidence, awareness and skills, including:

  • Coding boot camps
  • Coaches from local tech businesses
  • Eight-week Gateway to Tech Course
  • Financial awards designed to support participation

This two-year program focuses on young people from Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna, and Peachland.

Boot Camps

Each year, we will host two sets of four coding workshops – or boot camps – running Spring and Fall. Each boot camp comprises two three-hour sessions, taught by an accredited industry instructor. They provide an exciting taster, exposing participants to the reality of a career in tech, and raising aspirations to what’s possible. The four boot camps will vary each time but may include specific technology topics such as:

  • 3D design & printing
  • Android app development
  • Audio engineering
  • Video game development
  • General coding
  • Digital animation


After the boot camps, students will be matched with an industry coach to help them navigate the sector, providing insight into the tech industry, supporting job-readiness and creating networking opportunities.

Gateway to Tech

Following the bootcamps, students have the opportunity to enroll in the Gateway to Tech at Okanagan College.  This eight-week program includes a variety of topics that enhance the student’s IT essentials and coding skills as well as builds a connection to tech industry career opportunities.  Taught by instructors experienced in working with youth, this program offers engaging activities, includes industry guest speakers and provides hands-on learning opportunities.

Student Supports

Students in our target groups may experience financial barriers to participation in learning. Access to CODEanagan courses will be free to the student. We will also establish student awards designed to help with the cost of living and items like transport, particularly during Gateway to Tech.

CODEanagan Program Partners

CODEanagan is a unique partnership initiative coordinated by United Way. Our partners each play a specific role and bring considerable expertise and resources to the program.

  • Okanagan College hosts the boot camps, provides expert instructors, and delivers the Tech Gateway program.
  • Accelerate Okanagan provides the connection to the tech community and identifies coaches from tech businesses.
  • Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs supports recruitment of youth participants, ensuring their specific needs are met, and engaging them in the design of the program. They will also train the mentors.

CODEanagan Corporate Partners

Thanks to the following corporate partners who’ve provided financial support through community investment grants or in-kind support.

  • Coast Capital Savings Federal Credit Union 
  • Ogopogo Rotary Club of Kelowna
  • RBC Royal Bank of Canada – RBC Future Launch
  • TELUS Friendly Future Foundation
  • Twirling UmbrellasTechathlon creative campaign

CODEanagan and Techathlon Media Partners

Thanks to the following media partners who’ve provided in-kind advertising and promotional support for the CODEanagan fundraising campaign, Techathlon.

  • Bell Media – AM 1150, EZ Rock, SunFM 
  • Global Okanagan
  • Kelowna Capital News