SXSW: How Karlie Kloss is empowering young girls to code

Karlie Kloss

On a panel session at SXSW, the model talks her non-profit, Kode with Klossy, and how it’s paving the way for girls to change the world around them.


Considering her accomplishments, it’s hard to believe Karlie Kloss is just 25-years-old. Since 2010, she has been a staple fixture on and off the catwalk, lending her face to brands that span industries and borders. Though she already has an esteemed career in fashion under her belt, over the last few years the model decided there was an opportunity for her to give back. “I love my day job, but that’s not all that I am,” she says.

What started as sheer curiosity about the technology that was changing and shaping the world around her, Kloss enrolled in a coding course to satiate her appetite for knowledge. After enduring what she calls an “aha” moment, she realized the power in teaching this language of code to others, so that it could ultimately render a more efficient and better future for us all.

“It’s a medium where you can express ideas,” says Kloss referring to the language of code. In taking that first class, along with meeting a variety of tech industry friends along the way, Kloss says the language was humanized for her.

Though she had no direct intention of starting a non-profit, the feat was inevitable. During the time of her first course, somewhere between 2014 and 2015, Kloss recalls the persistent conversations in the media about the gender gap in the tech industry, which continues to be a hot topic in today’s climate.

Kloss, being an influential Millennial with a platform at her disposal, decided it was her duty to instigate change and allow those interested to explore this path, the means to do so. Launching a scholarship for 21 young girls interested in tech, Kloss took to her social media platforms to spread the news, resulting in thousands of applications for those 21 spots.

Fast forward to today, and the initiative has grown with finesse and speed. Kode with Klossy takes shape in the form of summer camps across a variety of American cities that operate sans tuition. The camps are open to selected applicants between the ages of 13 and 18, who learn the “ABC’s of code,” according to Kloss.

In addition to filling each classroom with a roster of diverse, passionate and curious young women, the camp is investing in proper teacher training. “This is solving the problem at scale,” says Kloss. The idea is that once these young girls are properly trained, they can use their new skillsets to problem-solve and institute a ripple effect of positive change throughout their world and their communities. “Each one of the girls that has learned to code, what they’ve gone on to do with it, has been so inspiring,” she says, noting some former pupils have won hack-a-thons and even built apps aimed at saving the planet.

Despite what it’s done for her own initiative, Kloss is keen on pointing out that social media following does not define one’s ability to make an impact. “I think that anyone can challenge the status quo and anyone can change their life and their community or someone else’s life,” says Kloss. The initiative is set to continue to grow this summer, with the powerful aim of building a foundation for the next female leaders within the tech industry.

For more around the latest tech trends, subscribers can access the Technology section of WGSN Insight here.

More on encouraging girls into coding and STEM careers can be found in our International Women’s Day 2018: Brand Highlights 

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