JOURNi teaches coding and other technological skills to Detroit-area youths.
Talk of Detroit's resurgence brings with it excitement for many, but worry for some – worry that they'll find themselves and their children locked outside of the hip happenings, and more importantly, the new opportunities. Richard Grundy, along with Brian McKinney and Quiessence Phillips, founded JOURNi to help ease those fears. They expose Detroit youth to technology, coding and an entrepreneurial mindset to equip them with the tools necessary to tunnel underneath that invisible – but very real – wall.
Grundy says, "We want to make sure that our community members are prepared for those (new job opportunities) and prepared to take advantage. It's better to get them started earlier than later. It's very important for them (youth) to have that confidence to create. … Technology makes that kind of easy, because there are so many different tools on the internet, now. They just have to be exposed to them. Kids take to technology fairly easy nowadays."
JOURNi offers different programs with unique focuses, but its summer internship for which they've partnered with Grow Detroit's Young Talent has proved most influential. Participants are taught coding, website building, software development and more, and given the chance to put those skills to work a real-world setting. The popularity of the internship program has allowed JOURNi to expand to additional in-school and after-school programs.
The idea for JOURNi started to form right after the recession when Grundy took part in a 3-month coding boot camp in New York City. He wanted to learn to "depend on myself and not really depend on large corporations." Shortly after his own lesson, he started volunteering at coding camps and that's when he decided his path. Grundy linked with McKinney and Phillips and discovered the two were also working toward diversity in coding, and together, they wanted to develop something permanent and longstanding.
So far, the community reaction has been positive and welcoming. "Everywhere that we go, people want our program in their school or in their community, and we're just trying to figure out the best way to facilitate that." Currently, JOURNi utilizes already established tech hubs for course training, but Grundy says they hope to soon be able to develop their own space and build permanent tech hubs throughout the city, especially in the neighborhoods.