SAN ANTONIO — Juan Ginez learned about tech in the Cassiano Homes, housing projects in the heart of San Antonio’s West Side.
“This is the apartment where I was learning how to code and in here is where I wrote kind of my first few lines of code and it was awesome,” Ginez said with his hand on the barracks-style apartments.
The average annual income of families receiving housing in this area is between $10,000 and $12,000. It was a lot less when Ginez was living there.
“My mom and my dad are in my room and [they] were like, ‘Hey, someone dropped off this computer for you,’ and it was the most exciting the day ever,” Ginez said.
It was pouring rain when he visited his old stamping grounds.
“These apartments still have bullet holes,” Ginez said.
While the violence isn’t nearly as bad, the lack of resources still plagues the barrio. In fact, the whole city. One in four families do not have access to the internet while one in six don’t even have access to a computer.
So Ginez, who now works at USAA as a business analyst, is bridging that gap with a coding camp.
“I said, 'You know what would be great? If I put a boot camp together for kids who come from the same background as me can learn about code, learn how to build websites and kind of introduce to technology,'” Ginez said.
He teamed up with BiblioTech and Opportunity Home San Antonio to assist children who are receiving some type of housing to become part of the .5% of people who know how to code.
Nathan, a 16-year-old high school student, says these skills will be benefit him as he aspires to travel the world.
“Massive help when it comes to being an entrepreneur in any type of whatever you do as an entrepreneur,” Nathan said.
He’s right. Many jobs require digital skills. Nathan says it helps that he and Juan have similar upbringings.
“It inspires me to say there is no buts, there’s no ifs, it’s going to happen,” Nathan said.
The students had a graduation ceremony at the USAA campus and received certificates and computers of their own.
“This boot camp is to demystify tech to show approachable. It is so removing those barriers from the kids to see themselves coding,” Ginez said. “See themselves in that space. That’s really a big mission of the camp.”