Young Entrepreneur: Kiera Peltz

Bringing STEM Education to All

When 29-year-old Kiera Peltz attended a career fair during her freshman year at Brown University, she had every intention of scoring a valuable internship. However, about 75 percent of the employers were tech companies, and the political science major had never considered science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) as a career path. “One recruiter patted me on the head and was like, ‘Dear child, go learn how to code and come back and talk to us,’” she recalls.

While she didn’t feel drawn to change her major, that incident—and her failure to get the internship—got her thinking about all the middle school and high school students in the United States who, like her, hadn’t been exposed to technology jobs and the skills needed to perform them. She came away with this message: “You can be an Ivy League student and still be turned down by 75 percent of the companies hiring because you don’t have the right skills.”

Not long after, Peltz met some Estonians at an international conference and learned that children in their country commonly learned how to code starting at age seven.

That inspired her to email local principals, asking if she could bring computer science workshops to their schools. “I wanted to create programs for young girls, like me, who would never be encouraged in this area of study,” she says. “Within 20 minutes, I had a middle school reach out and say, ‘How soon can you be here?’”

That marked the official launch of the Coding School in 2013. Since then, the Coding School has provided more than 70,000 hours of instruction to more than 40,000 students across the globe. It has also partnered with such tech giants as Google and IBM, and, in November 2022, received a $3 million grant from the US Department of Defense to provide training to high school students in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

The way Peltz sees it, it’s her civic duty to give back, and providing STEM education is something she’s particularly well suited to do. “I’m the perfect person because I’m not STEM inclined, so I know what’s needed.”

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