Unicodemy teaches girls to code with support from DigitalOcean

“It’s hard to get funding for things like hosting and maintaining technology, so DigitalOcean’s contribution to that part of our business significantly impacts our ability to support girls.”

Unicodemy teaches girls to code with support from DigitalOcean

Unicodemy is a nonprofit organization that empowers girls to find their best futures. They encourage girls to become innovators, entrepreneurs, and agents of change through interactive and innovative learning opportunities in STEM. Pamela Gonzales, Founder of Unicodemy, recognized that girls in Latin America are among some of the most disadvantaged when it comes to learning new technical skills, specifically learning how to code. Based in Bolivia, she founded Unicodemy to help girls learn to code in a fun, interactive, culturally relevant way.

Meeting girls where they are

The team at Unicodemy knew that learning to code can sometimes be overwhelming and that girls may feel out of place because it’s not typically considered “girly”. They came up with an idea to gamify the learning experience through storytelling, creating an online platform for girls to participate in activities they would enjoy while learning to code. They also knew that many girls in Bolivia do not have access to the internet at home, and with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down schools and other public places, they needed to be able to reach girls in their homes.

The team created a short story about a little pony named Codi that needs to find a unicorn to solve her problem—helping kids understand that technology exists to solve problems. They told the story of Codi through physical books to overcome the barrier of internet access in girls’ homes. In addition to the books, girls can participate in virtual camps and find resources like online video series to continue their education.

In the story, a storm comes along and threatens Codi’s world. She finds out that if she wants to stop the storm, she has to find the unicorn that keeps the rainbow. The story follows her going through the rainbow color by color, each color teaching the kids something new about coding. For example, when Codi goes to the yellow color in the rainbow, she learns how variables work, why you need them, and other related basic concepts. When she goes on to another color, she learns how a loop structure works, using examples like decorating cupcakes.

Building a sustainable platform

Gonzales has a background in Computer Science, but she had never managed cloud services before. She needed a cloud provider that could provide the high-quality services she needed at an affordable price and with a platform that is easy to use, all of which were found with DigitalOcean’s Droplets. Gonzales found the minimalistic dashboard provided by DigitalOcean easy to understand and appreciated being able to find out how much she was spending at any time. The dashboard also helped her easily find out if she needed more resources and how to improve the performance of her platform for participants.

The Unicodemy team applied for DigitalOcean’s Hollie’s Hub for Good program, a resource for nonprofits working to improve health and education, reduce inequality, or spur economic growth. They were accepted into the program and given infrastructure credits, allowing the team to use the funding that would typically go toward infrastructure to fund other initiatives within the organization instead.

“It’s hard to get funding for things like hosting and maintaining technology, so DigitalOcean’s contribution to that part of our business significantly impacts our ability to support girls. For a project like ours, it’s important to be sustainable. Funding can often run out at any time, and can often only last for a year. DigitalOcean helps us be sustainable.” - Pamela Gonzales, Founder, Unicodemy

Unicodemy was still a fledgling organization when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and businesses. During that time, many kids didn’t have any access to remote learning opportunities and began looking for other ways to learn—turning to Unicodemy to learn to code. The organization rapidly grew from serving ten girls to more than 2,000 girls. DigitalOcean’s easy scalability and transparent pricing allow the team at Unicodemy to plan for the future. “For us, it’s easy to know that tomorrow if we have 10,000 girls, this is how many resources we will need. DigitalOcean helps us plan for and know how many resources we need for the future,” explained Gonzales.

Future Growth

Unicodemy chose unicorns as their theme because of their significance in startup and tech culture. Everyone wants to be a unicorn! The team wants girls everywhere to know that they can be unicorns. They’re looking forward to expanding the reach of their content, first to all of Latin America and then eventually translating it into other languages to be a resource for kids around the world. With DigitalOcean, they know what they need to make it happen and have the confidence knowing that DigitalOcean will support them every step of the way.





La Paz, Bolivia

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