CoderDojo Community Committee #4

Below are the minutes of the Community Call which took place on October 6th at 21:00 – 22:00 IST


  • Giustina Mizzoni – CDF
  • Eugene McDonagh – CDF, Killaloe and Limerick Dojos
  • Mary Moloney – CDF, Global CEO
  • John Harrington – CMX (Carrickmacross) Dojo
  • Michael Madden – Athenry Dojo
  • Ann Donnelly – Clonakilty Dojo
  • Craig Steele – Glasgow Coderdojo, CoderDojo Scotland
  • Rob Curran – Wilmslow, Barclays, Hayes Recruitment CoderDojos
  • Carmelo Presicce – Bologna CoderDojo, CoderDojo Italia
  • David Welch – Iowa City Dojo
  • Shara Karasic – LA Dojo
  • Francis Reed – Dun Laoghaire Dojo
  • Christian Vermeulen (Representing Netherlands) Rotterdam Dojo
  • Josh Westguard, Washington DC Dojo 
Time Topic Who 21:00 CoderDojo Foundation Project Update (RP & Community Strategy) Giustina/CoderDojo Foundation 21:10 CoderDojo Foundation CEO Mary Moloney / CoderDojo Foundation 21:25 Q & A between Mary and Committee Committee 21:55 A.O.B


Project Updates

Recommended Practice & Community Strategy

  • In the Pilot a third of the way through. There has been some positive and constructive feedback which will be taken on board and it will all be incorporated and amended by year end before we go for global launch.A full update will be given once the pilot finished.
  • Giustina mentioned that all Dojos would be getting an email in the next day about the new Community Strategy.
  • This included New avenues for Community support including one-on-one calls , Twitter chats and more.

Mary Global CEO introduction and Presentation on CoderDojo and where CoderDojo is going.

Questions and Answers for Mary

The below Q&A are not exact transcripts and in some instincts have been summarised.

Q. Craig: Some of the target worldwide areas will be hard to reach and would presumably need significant effort and resources. What are the reasons for extra efforts in these new areas rather than greater support for areas that have already started such as Ireland & the UK.

A. Mary: The real reason is to reach 100,000 kids and young people by 2016, but we do not want to just reach the ‘low hanging fruit’, we actually want the model to be global. We want our kids who are in the easier to reach regions to be participants in a global model. We want them to collaborate with kids around the world and we want to reach the kids who are coming from less privileged backgrounds, who have less opportunity to get access to technology skills and to develop those online skills that they’re going to need to be successful. It’s not an either or, we want to do both. We do truly want CoderDojo to be an organisation with global reach.

Q. Dave; What criteria is being discussed for the expansion of the Foundation? That is the US office or the EU Office.

A. Mary : We are looking and thinking in terms of funding and partnerships of how we get a presence in the US and how we get a presence in the Middle East or Africa and how we can make that work. As you’ll all be aware as the focus has been scaling the UK or closer European countries and Ireland, it hasn’t been a particular challenge, but certainly as we start to look at Africa for example we are looking at new partnerships. When it starts to scale then I will be looking to one of our global technology organisations to help us with resourcing and sponsoring resources in those regions. The same with South America,when that starts to take off, I expect we will need help and we need resources located there. Similarly at one time covering the USA we did have a resource based in New York and its something we need to think through and work through in terms of what capacity we need to cover the US and who the right person would be and where would they be located.

Q. Rob: What are the priorities for growth in terms of countries and their footprint, total number of attendees and a bigger global Foundation presence?

A: Mary: I think we covered some of that previously. We’ll start to scale the team as we start to scale into different regions. We will not go into a region unsupported. With Africa we are talking with 3 partners, with South America I am in discussions with a potential partner at the starting point, with the Middle East for two different countries we have two Champions who have self-elected one who works for Accenture, one who is a teacher. We have had contact with people and people have been putting their hands up and When we can see a plan, we can start to shape up the capacity we need to deliver that plan. Right now each of those conversations are relatively early days and we need to start fleshing out the detail of how we operationalise the strategy in those regions.

Q. Michael: You mentioned funding, last year a charity in Ireland, the CRC, came under fire because around 50% of funds raised were going to the management team not the front line. At CoderDojo this is higher, is there risk of a similar controversy?

A. Mary: It isn’t really when you look at it because we use direct funding. We do funding in two ways. Firstly we fund payrolls for the small team and that’s A) a very small number and very justifiable and in terms of any charity salaries. You won’t get any CRC type salaries in CoderDojo and that will never happen. The other funding, which is the less visible funding which is the less visible funding which is the large amount of support we get from other organisations. We get support in terms of services and work done by other organisations and thats because they find it easier to give that type of support rather than cash. If we were to quantify exactly the monetary value of the other types of support we get, it would far and exceeds the amount we would spend on payroll which is very contained and very small numbers.

A. Giustina: To add to we are also making moves to align with the Good Governance code there is also a New Charity Commissioner coming in for Ireland and that places greater accountability and transparency on charities. We are preemptively making moves to make sure we are not only meeting but exceeding the expectations of a charity.

A. Mary: For examples of the supports we get, we get all our legal services for free, we get all of our tax, audit and financial services for free. We get free legal service from A&L, our audits are done by Deloitte. If we were to put together the list of services we get for free or pro-bono, it would come to a very large number but because we have A&L and Deloitte they would consider us a very high performing charity with a very low cost base.

A. Eugene: To add onto that on the breakdown on management. No person’s sole job is management, we all work on projects/partnerships. So even our own salary base can be split down.

Q. John: Mary you mentioned you were looking at succession plans for mentors and Champions. Is that a practical exercise bearing in mind that each local Dojo is so fluid, it’s probably impossible to personalise a plan to make that happen

A. Mary: Yes. And it is not an attempt to personalise it. Theres a few things we would have talked out at DojoCon that we will be talking about and documenting. The first that Bill in particular is keen on is that we sustain the community through the kids that participate in the community. So I know myself at Sandymount Dojo that we have 2 or 3 mini mentors who do a lot of the mentoring as it is very much a Scratch Dojo for now. So I guess the point is that we enable and assist each Dojos when and if they choose to do it with some tools to help get some mentors from their community which would assist them to take up mentoring themselves. The other element, which I talked about in terms of me engaging with the IBMs, the Intels, The Salesforces, the microsofts, The Accentures, The Deloittes and making sure these organisations have very active CSR policies that cover time that their employees can spend at CDojo. And each of these organisations I have had the initial conversations to make sure their pool of technology people all around the world can put their hands up and can contact their local Champions and can be added themselves to their pool of Mentors. The third thing then is coming up with ways to maintain and sustain young mentors and maybe bringing in the Mozilla model around badges and certification so that those young people can add CoderDojo mentoring to their CV so they can actually use it when it comes to getting employment as an example to incentivise young people to get involved with mentoring around the world. So there is three things, engaging with mentors and rewarding them for their commitment and their time. I know no one necessarily looks for it but it is something that would help. And then getting large organisations giving us access to their pool of people and then creating our own new generation of mentors through our community of participants of kids and young people.

Q. John: What determines successes. You said earlier on that we’re doing okish in the US. What determines success and failure from a CoderDojo perspective?

A. Mary: Well to me one of the successes is that we see the dots on our CoderDojo map. That those dots are covering broader areas. A huge success for Bill and the board particular are that we see 100,000 kids within another year or a half.

Q.John: Regardless of Quality?

A. Mary: Not regardless of quality at all while sustaining the same level of quality that exists in the existing Dojos while being able to grow and build the tools and technologies we can make available to young people. Its not going to be a success if it’s not a proper Dojo so thats the reality.

Q.John:I would suggest in the nature of full transparency and I think last year the Rehab controversy with regards to salaries. Are you guys preparing an open and transparent disclosures around salaries and expenses? And all the kinds of things that people will expect from CoderDojo?

A. Mary: Yeah we have the process that we are currently working through (the Charity Process) and those will be published regularly. (Note audited 2013 accounts available here)

Q. John: I don’t think anyone would be criticising the efforts that are being made. Just to make sure that nobody takes a potshot and that those figures are being validated or that they are available. The last question I have is around advertising. There are certain events like the Commonwealth games, what benefit is there in CoderDojo being involved in something like that?

A. Mary: the first thing about the commonwealth games is that we were there on invitation from Virgin Media who paid for travel to the event. The reason we were there is that they were making available a Digital Open Space in the Michell Library in Glasgow. So we were there to demonstrate that a Dojo could be up and running in that Digital Space and help them with the opening of that and they funded the entire attendance of the event. What it also did was create a whole lot of noise on CoderDojo in Scotland. It was quite a significant thing that Virgin Media helped to fund that permanent digital space that will remain there for as long as the Michell Library remains there. It was a significant event to that extent.

A: Craig (Glasgow) – The Digital Making space is a legacy space now in Glasgow.

Q. Ann:  Is there a ratio of effort spent on expansion vs supporting existing Dojos. Theres fear of existing Dojos feeling left behind.

A. Mary: Yeah and thats a very valid point and it comes back to my point of if and when we get clarity on exactly how we are going to open New Dojos in New Areas we will grow the team to make sure that we support that so as an example. If someone is going to help us in a partnership way to get into a country one of the first things I will be asking will be how will we resource that. The 6 people we have now in the Foundation team are busy and me talking to partners and talking to people in other regions is me in the evenings and in my spare time and fitting in meetings where we can. When we start to get traction in other areas we will be growing the team either to having a resource nominated and dedicated inside a partner organisation or by taking an additional person on. We are very conscious that we need to continue to track and manage our capacity.

Q. Carmelo: There is a lot of interest about teach coding in schools here in Italy. What do you think of the role of CoderDojo in supporting public education

A. Mary: We do have a role but we always go back to the point that if it is in a school system they will only get a very basic introductory level, they have a broad curriculum to cover and a finite amount of hours to do that. I spent time with Code Club last week, who provide the gap between the school and CoderDojo in that they run clubs directly after school and they will get them through to the basic understanding and level of Scratch and a little bit of introduction to HTML and/or python. And then for those kids who have that introduction, they’ll want to join a club to learn more and to get engrossed and absorbed into coding skills. We will never replace what a school is doing. We will never run a school system. Well I can’t envision us doing so in the next ⅔ years but we will be there for kids who come through school or code club or just find us directly, we will be the go to place where kids can, in a very relaxed,fun, non-classroom environment, get to really explore and engage with technology and learn coding skills.

Q. John: What standards will this years accounts be published to?

A. Giustina: This years accounts (2014) will be published to the SORP standards. Statement of Recommended Practice. The Charity Regulator in Ireland, which where we are incorporated, has been set up but has not been fully implemented so are yet to release their requirements but it is expected that it will be to SORP standards.

A. Eugene: Last years accounts were audited by Deloitte but the SORP standards go another step higher and have more stuff on what charities would want to give more information on.

A. Giustina: Our financial year runs with the calendar year. So you could expect our financial accounts to be published end of Q1 2015 or early Q2 2015 at the latest (auditor depending).

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