Project Empower Circle
A Conversation with Kyla Bolden, Founder of Wiz Kid Coding and Co-founder of Wizzy Esports
Many initiatives and organizations spring out of a recognizing a gap in one's experience. For Kyla, this meant creating an educational platform that equips children with comprehensive coding and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. The lack of exposure to the STEM field prior to entering the post-secondary space was a gap that she recognized and filled with Wiz Kid Coding. In this interview, we learn more about Kyla's journey to starting a business and building a community.
Tell us about yourself and what you do!
My name is Kyla Bolden and I am an entrepreneur in the education technology industry. I was born in Bermuda, educated in the United States, and now I live in Toronto. I have always been passionate about empowering others through technology and business - two passions that led me to co-founding my companies Wiz Kid Coding and Wizzy Esports.
"I was able to [...] explore how we can make the postgraduate job search experience more equitable for everyone [...] by creating accessible coding and STEM education programs for students."
Take us back to the first initiative you started. How did you decide to start it and what was your vision for it?
Ever since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Before I started my current business, I did start numerous school clubs and initiatives that I was passionate about. In university, I co-founded a club that helped minority and women student’s get internships and post-grad jobs.
Starting this club really gave me the opportunity to explore my passion of helping women achieve their business goals and it also gave me more insight into the inequalities that black and brown women and men face when entering the workforce. When diving deeper into this issue, I noticed that many of there was a huge demand for jobs in the STEM industry - however, many students were not exposed to coding prior to beginning University.
This knowledge helped me to better understand how pre-secondary education could better prepare students for the workforce by adding more technology and STEM-focused courses. When it came time to start my entrepreneurial journey, I was able to draw on this information and further explore how we can make the postgraduate job search experience more equitable for everyone - and one way to do this was by creating accessible coding and STEM education programs for students.
What is Wiz Kid Coding and how did it come about?
Wiz Kid Coding is a technology enabled education company that offers specialty instructor-led, live online and in-person coding and STEM programs for children ages 4 to 14. We started Wiz Kid Coding in 2016 because we noticed that although there was a growing demand for jobs in the STEM industries, schools were still not providing students comprehensive coding & STEM education. With this, we set out to create a company that would provide accessible, fun and comprehensive Coding and STEM Education for kids so that they can gain key technology skills that will help them succeed in our growing digitized economy.
What are some challenges and also positive experiences you have had throughout your time at Wiz Kid Coding?
Starting a business is quite a challenging feat in itself. One of the challenges we faced in helping potential clients understand why coding was such an important skill for children to learn. However, once we explained the economic and educational benefits of coding and STEM Education, many parents and students were excited to learn more about how they can gain this skill.
"Our curriculum is designed to encourage children to work together and think of each other as teammates rather than just classmates."
How have you incorporated the community into your work? What is your vision for Wiz Kid with regards to the communities you serve/hope to serve?
At our company, we prioritize community and teamwork in our corporate culture and also within our classrooms. Our curriculum is designed to encourage children to work together and think of each other as teammates rather than just classmates. Most of the activities students do in our classes (both online and in person) encourage collaboration and group problem solving. We do this because we believe that it is important for students to learn to work together from a young age and also to see and understand different perspectives so that they can become better team players, leaders and collaborators - all skills that will help them grow as students and individuals.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting a non-profit/business/club?
Starting a business is hard, but actually sticking with it and not giving up is even harder. My advice would be to make sure you get started as soon as you can, and don’t be afraid to pivot and innovate.
"Having a good work life balance not only is healthy, but it helps you become more productive as well."
What empowers you today?
I love that Wiz Kid Coding is a place where children can have fun, learn and leave feeling empowered by the new skill they learned or the project they completed. It empowers me to know that I helped build a company that has helped to build the confidence and educational tenacity of so many children.
What is your vision for your work and the world at large in the future?
Our goal is to make sure every child, regardless of their circumstances, has the opportunity to learn how to code. Learning to code gives students the opportunity to help improve their communities through technology - and every child deserves the opportunity to do this. At the moment, we are teaching classes in over 20 countries and we want to further our reach to help make sure every child has access to quality coding and stem education.
What aspect of your business are you looking to elevate in 2021? Are there any personal goals that you have for elevating yourself in the new year?
In 2021, our goal is to expand Wiz Kid Coding further internationally to give more children various countries the opportunity to learn how to code.
As an individual, one of my main goals for 2021 is to keep working hard and make sure to schedule in time to relax and take a break as it is easy to overwork when working from home (due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Having a good work life balance not only is healthy, but it helps you become more productive as well.
You can find more about Kyla Bolden and Wiz Kid Coding / Wizzy Esports at www.wizkidcoding.com.
This article was an interview with Kyla Bolden and formatted by Nikoo Aghaei. The introduction and questions were written by Nikoo Aghaei.
Images provided by Kyla Bolden