Teaching our young people coding is not only a good idea, it’s vital for their future success. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computing occupations make up 67% of all projected new jobs through 2028.


Yet Black students and other students of color, who make up 50% of Waterloo Schools’ population, aren’t finding those opportunities. Nationally, Black coders make up just 6.3% of those working in coding.


We can make the field of coding more diverse and equitable — and, in a metro area consistently labeled “one of the worst places to live if you’re Black,” can simultaneously lift the standard of living by matching skills to jobs, keeping our young people right here in the Cedar Valley.


Black residents of the Cedar Valley face a much higher unemployment rate than white residents, at 19.7% to 4%, in 2017. That leads to a much lower median income of $27,811, nearly half that of whites. Coding jobs are high-demand, high-paying careers that can be life-changing by moving people into the middle class.

UrbanDevelopers, with its focus on coding opportunities for Black youth in particular as well as other underrepresented groups in coding like girls, students of color and LGBTQ students, aims to reduce these inequities in Waterloo/Cedar Falls. Additionally, UrbanDevelopers positions youth for the jobs of the future and of the present that already exist in Iowa, keeping more of the area’s smart, educated residents here, instead of losing them to the coasts.






coder dojo




The CoderDojo movement believes that an understanding of programming languages is increasingly important in the modern world, that it’s both better and easier to learn these skills early, and that nobody should be denied the opportunity to do so.

To that end, we’ve built a global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. Anyone aged seven to seventeen can visit a Dojo where they can learn to code, build a website, create an app or a game, and explore technology in an informal, creative, and social environment.

Code Club



Code Club is a global network of after-school coding clubs for children.


Code Club have resources to teach children Scratch, HTML/CSS, and Python.
Learning to code is more than just a vocational skill: it changes the way children analyse and solve problems, and encourages creative thinking and collaboration.


Girls Who Code




Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does.




In 1995, 37% of computer scientists were women. Today, it’s only 24%. The percent will continue to decline if we do nothing. We know that the biggest drop off of girls in computer science is between the ages of 13 and 17.
We’re reaching girls around the world and are on track to close the gender gap in new entry-level tech jobs by 2030.




Minecraft: Education Edition prepares students for the future, building future-ready skills like creativity, problem solving, and systems thinking, and nurturing a passion for play. 


Explore real-world issues in immersive, imaginative worlds

Computational thinking with in-game coding and curriculum

Build empathy and learn digital citizenship.




Shenae Rivers

Founder, Executive Director, CTO, CFO

 A Waterloo native and East High graduate, Shenae taught herself coding during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to position herself for a high-demand career. She knows there aren’t many Black female LGBT coders like her to learn from, particularly around the Cedar Valley, and through UrbanDevelopers wants to teach the skills of the future to kids that otherwise would not have the chance to see those opportunities for themselves.

Amie Rivers

Assistant Director

Amie hasn’t completed her bio yet.

Marissa Chitwood, MS

Unity Program Instructor

A recent graduate from Temple University with an MS in Neuroscience, Marissa uses Unity Game Engine to build applications in virtual reality developing novel research methods for social neuroscience research. She advocates for the use of simulated reality technology in lab-controlled research studies to better predict social behaviors in real-world settings. Knowing that virtual reality can effectively be used to simulate social situations, she is interested in how it can be used to better humanity. She aims to teach Unity to kids who can benefit from experiencing the power of Unity, allowing their imaginations to run free as they take full control over the environments they create.