“If you can see it, you can be it.”

This is the motto of Dream Hustle Code: a nonprofit with the mission to bring computer science education to underrepresented kids in tech.

Dream Hustle Code was founded by Ian Michael Brock, a 16-year-old Chicagoan. Ian stopped by ActiveCampaign on August 5 to talk about his mission as part of the ActivePerspectives program.

Watch Ian Michael Brock’s ActivePerspectives interview

ActivePerspectives is a guest speaker program, designed to showcase perspectives from leading voices, and to educate ActiveCampaign employees on topics related to company values:

  • Iterate everything, always
  • Pursue growth with gratitude
  • Create wow
  • Cultivate inclusion & diversity
  • Make the customer a hero
  • Start with trust

“If you have knowledge, you have the responsibility to share it with others.”

Ian Michael Brock isn’t your average 16-year-old. Since he was 8, Ian has taken an interest in coding and computer science — an interest sparked by NBA star Chris Bosh in a Facebook video about the importance of coding (and its absence from many American schools).

With that spark, Ian took off. He helped coordinate an educational event that paired 2 schools from Chicago’s North and South side to bring computer science and coding to kids who would never have otherwise had such an opportunity.

After the event, something happened.

Calls started coming in from the parents wanting to know how they could help their children learn to code. With such a response, Ian had an idea: he would work to create a nonprofit that filled the computer science knowledge gap for kids from underprivileged communities.

And Dream Hustle Code was born.

Since founding Dream Hustle Code, Ian has worked tirelessly to make a difference. He has:

  • Spoken publicly at countless events, including to an audience of 15,000+ in Chicago
  • Appeared on national television at the BET Awards to discuss Dream Hustle Code
  • Hosted multiple events to further education and help with fundraising
  • Raised enough money to fund a trip for 25 underprivileged children to travel Silicon Valley, visit large tech companies, and meet real-life engineers, coders, and designers
  • Interviewed celebrities like Oprah Winphrey, Governor JB Pritzker, various venture capitalists, and the man who first sparked his interest in computer science: NBA star Chris Bosh

If you’d like to see Ian’s television appearances, you can check them out here.

Ian shared a quote that resonated with him from his meeting with Oprah. She told him,

“In everything you’re doing, you have to understand that it’s bigger than you, and you’re just a piece of the puzzle.”

Ian continued, “If you understand that, and you know that you’re a piece of the puzzle and the work you’re doing is to serve other people, it’s not for you but it’s for others. You will be blessed beyond what you could ever imagine.”

How to overcome adversity and adapt to challenges

Ian’s work isn’t limited to expanding the horizons in computer science for children from underprivileged communities — Ian discovered that kids also need to develop confidence and a strong belief in themselves.

Ian noticed that many kids lacked the ability to meet, adapt, overcome challenges that come up. Oftentimes we get discouraged and want to quit when we’re faced with adversity.

Ian also realized that children are more attentive and engaged when they’re learning from one of their peers.

Combining these 2 observations, Ian began to work on his own self-improvement book. Modeled after Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and Dr. Dennis Kimbro’s Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice, his book aims to educate his peers, and teach them about success.

Since March and the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ian realized that underprivileged communities face even more challenges. With school closures and summer camp cancellations, Ian saw an opportunity to fill another gap and keep his peers out of harm’s way.

Dream Hustle Code launched a weekly Intro to Computer Science and Personal Development Mini Boot Camp. The results?

  • 17 straight weeks of educational content
  • Camp attended by children from 19 states
  • Fundraising made it possible to scale and offer the camp to 300+ children for free

But that’s not all. Ian has developed a 6-week summer camp program that runs for 2 hours a day, Monday through Friday. This summer camp consists of:

  • UsingGrasshopper (a “Code with Google” application)
  • Teaching the basics of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS languages
  • Personal development training focused on goal setting, time management, and overcoming challenges
  • Inspiring attendees with motivational videos
  • Creating vision boards for the future using Pinterest

As a nonprofit, Dream Hustle Code relies on fundraising to keep these projects going. Ian would love to keep the camps going for longer than 6 or 8 weeks, but year round.

Dream Hustle Code’s goal is to inspire, encourage, and educate as many children as possible, to help them realize that if they can see it, they can be it.