Youth coding program aims to grow STEM education in South Philly and beyond

Code Ninjas – South Philadelphia

Over the next decade, 71 percent of new jobs will reportedly require computer science skills in Pennsylvania, according to the Department of Education.

Code Ninjas is doing its part to make sure local students are ready.

With locations in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., the youth coding program has branded itself as the world’s largest and fastest-growing kids’ coding franchise with a site setup on the 700 block of S. Broad Street in South Philadelphia and surrounding suburban counties.

Code Ninjas – South Philadelphia

“We’ve been around since 2016 and became based on this idea of kids needing a place as an after-school activity where they could come to do cool coding activities with like-minded individuals,” said Bill Marsland, director of education at Code Ninjas. “I think that is such an important part of the Code Ninjas concept. There is such power in having that type of space for kids who have these interests, which made me really excited to join in 2020.”

The space allows for students to build critical thinking skills behind their game-based curriculum.

Students are essentially able to gain the knowledge to code while building their own video games to fuel creativity through programs such as Roblox, Minecraft, and 3D printing.

And as the School District of Philadelphia evolves its educational footprint, programs like Code Ninjas partnered with the city to help empower and prepare those students soon to enter a tech-driven workforce.

Meghan LaBelle, Code Ninjas Field Rep for the Philadelphia area, states the South Philly hub has partnered locally with Fanny Jackson Coppin School, Independence Charter School, Marian Anderson Neighborhood Academy, G. W. Childs Elementary School, and Edwin M. Stanton School.

“I think we’re preparing students for that future job market, but (Code Ninjas) allows them to bring their ideas to a digital realm,” said LaBelle. “I think that digital literacy is becoming just as important as traditional literacy and giving them that exposure is the first step to seeing where they want to take it.”

As the program looks ahead beyond their traditional summer camp programs, they’ve recently announced the second installment of their ‘Prodigy Program.’

The pioneering enrichment education initiative will partner with ‘Sky Elements,’ to offer students a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of drone shows and have the opportunity to program one.

Code Ninjas – South Philadelphia

Students will also be able to experience the basics of networking technology and how drone show pilots control hundreds of drones from a single computer.

The winning Code Ninjas, to be announced March 2, will receive an all-expenses paid trip on March 16 to the Sky Elements headquarters in Dallas, Texas, for the unique chance to learn, fly, and help co-design a drone show.

Applications are now open and being accepted through February 24.

For more information about Code Ninjas, visit