Raspberry Pi Foundation And U.K.’s Code Club Merge For Global Push To Get Kids Coding

Make way for ‘Pi Club’ (not its real name): The not-for-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, makers of the wildly popular $35 Raspberry Pi microprocessor, and the U.K.-based volunteer-led charitable organization Code Club, which runs after school programs to get kids coding, are merging — with the latter becoming a subsidiary of The Pi Foundation.

The idea being to advance the core mission of both organisations, which in the Pi’s case is also about getting more kids involved with tech. Albeit that the Pi’s success thus far — with some seven million+ of its microprocessors sold to date since launch in 2012 — has mostly been a result of (adult) makers seizing the chance to use low cost hardware to power their projects.

But while big kids have powered Pi sales, the Pi Foundation still wants more school-age kids to get tinkering.

Meanwhile Code Club, which launched in June 2013, has generally focused on encouraging 9- to 11-year-olds to get interesting in building stuff with tech. Currently some 44,000 children in the U.K. regularly attend one its after school clubs, with around 40 per cent being girls.

There are around 3,150 Code Clubs within the U.K. at this point, and just over 1,000 clubs outside — with Brazil, Australia and New Zealand its busiest non-U.K. regions at this point.

Both organizations also share some common corporate philanthropic funders, such as Google, with similarly aligned missions when it comes to ensuring the next generation of workers have the programming skills they need to fuel their businesses.

Code Club has also been backed financially by ARM, Nesta, Samsung and the U.K. Cabinet Office.

Speaking to TechCrunch about the merger, Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Philip Colligan noted the two organisations have already worked together previously, and described joining forces as “an obvious decision”.

“We work in very similar areas, we have the same goals, we have very similar… ways of achieving those goals. And lots of capabilities that we think we can bring together so that we can reach more people,” he said. “The idea is that by joining forces we will be able to combine our skills, our reach, and to put investment into growing Code Club so that it’s in every community in the world.”

“We know that Raspberry Pi has a fantastic community all around the world and that the Raspberry Pi community — especially in this country — are already Code Club volunteers. So we’ll be looking to encourage both communities to start Code Clubs all over the world, and that will help us grow internationally, which is one of our main aims,” added Code Club’s Clare Sutcliffe. “Our plan is to put a Code Club in every community in the world.”

“We’re not messing about!” added Colligan.

Another overlap between the Pi Foundation and Code Club is that both run programs aiming to train teachers how to teach kids computer science and digital making — a key bottleneck when it comes to upskilling the next generation, despite government-backed changes to the schools curriculum in England that mandate teaching kids programming. (Last year, for instance, the U.K. government announced £500,000 in matched funding for expert computing organisations running programs to train teachers to deliver the tech-oriented new curriculum.)

“Again we think we’ve got really strong communities of educators,” said Colligan. “So again we think there’s real opportunities there for us to work together and reach many more teachers.”

Another overlap that the pair envisage benefiting from their merger is both organisations have been creating free online resources for learning coding and digital making.

“You should expect to see a much stronger online offer from us that means that anybody in the world in their own time or in school can access our material and use them,” said Colligan.

“Nothing about the way that Code Clubs currently work is changing, other than we want to see many more of them in the U.K. and around the world,” he added.