UPDATED Aug. 23: Recent Arlington High School graduate Robbie Khazan is working to teach computer-science skills to underprivileged children around the world with his nonprofit organization Kiddo Byte.
He was recently awarded a scholarship for his efforts with Kiddo Byte.
Khazan, 18, started learning the basics of coding when he was in first grade, instructed by his father. When he grew older, after teaching his younger sister a bit about coding, he decided to expand to a wider range of students and offer a free class to family friends.
The class was a success, and Khazan quickly realized he had an opportunity to give back to the community in a way that he was passionate about: He decided to offer free classes to underprivileged children who didn’t have good access to coding classes.
Since then, Kiddo Byte has grown immensely, offering free Zoom classes for children around the country and even other parts of the world, including Kenya and Ukraine.
Earlier this summer, Khazan set up a trip for himself and one other Kiddo Byte team member to travel to Kenya to teach free classes at the Heritage Baptist Church & Junior School, a small elementary school in Nairobi. Khazan funded the trip by reaching out to companies for sponsorships and applying for grants.
75-minute classes daily
They taught four 75-minute classes each day to nine groups of students over two weeks. They made the material accessible and easy to learn by printing out large-sized lines of code rrom the introductory programming software Scratch and by teaching the children basic computer skills.
Kiddo Byte donated 15 laptops to the school, five of which were to go to students after the classes ended. While Khazan was there, he also trained teachers at the school so the classes could continue after he left.
In an interview, Khazan said that the students loved learning with the Kiddo Byte team. He said one student told him that it “was the best thing that has ever happened in [his] life.” Khazan agreed: Seeing the overwhelmingly positive impact he made on the students in Kenya was hugely rewarding for him.
Khazan has also since expanded Kiddo Byte classes to include children in Ukraine. His team has partnered with orphanages for children displaced by the war to offer small free online classes led by Kiddo Byte instructors.
For his work with Kiddo Byte, Khazan was awarded a $36,000 Tikkun Olam Diller Teen Scholarship Award, a competitive scholarship that looks for Jewish teenagers who are leading volunteer projects to combat social issues in the world. More information about the scholarship is available on the Diller Teen website >>
Khazan plans to use the scholarship award to fund his future efforts with Kiddo Byte as well as his education at MIT starting in the fall.
Meanwhile, Kiddo Byte is teaching classes this summer; readers can learn more on the Kiddo Byte website. Khazan is eager to continue his work with Kiddo Byte during his time at college and is excited to continue teaching classes to kids in need.
Visit kiddobyte.org, a 501(c)3 organization to which donations are tax-deductible, tto learn more.
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This news feature by Aidan Klingsberg, a YourArlington editorial intern, was published Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, and updated Aug. 23 to state the subject's current age and to make other minor corrections to the text as a whole.
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