Code Girls program gets financial boost

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  • Philanthropists Michael and Jamie Goguen donated $50,000 to Code Girls United during a fundraiser at Casey’s in Whitefish on Saturday. Left to right front row: Helayna Iwen, Amanda Hutchison, Chloe Davenport, Makayla Davenport and Trinity Hutchison. Back row: Beth Schecher, Marianne Smith, Taryn Haynes and Michael and Jamie Goguen.

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  • Philanthropists Michael and Jamie Goguen donated $50,000 to Code Girls United during a fundraiser at Casey’s in Whitefish on Saturday. Left to right front row: Helayna Iwen, Amanda Hutchison, Chloe Davenport, Makayla Davenport and Trinity Hutchison. Back row: Beth Schecher, Marianne Smith, Taryn Haynes and Michael and Jamie Goguen.

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Whitefish philanthropists Michael and Jamie Goguen have given Code Girls United a boost with a $50,000 donation.

The donation will support Code Girls United, a free program through which fourth- through eighth-grade girls learn coding and programming. Members meet weekly after school, learning the basics of computer science and designing, coding and testing apps in conjunction with developing business plans as part of a service project. The girls also participate in competitions from the local to international level.

“The generous donation from Michael and Jamie Goguen helps us all to build community connections that empower us,” said Code Girls United leader Marianne Smith.

Code Girls United has evolved from its start in 2016 and has changed its name a couple of times, landing on one that establishes that all girls are welcome, whether they live in the Flathead Valley or not. Smith said members have come as far as Big Arm and with an increase in membership, the group also changed its location from Russell Elementary to a computer lab at Flathead Valley Community College.

The vision of the nonprofit is to motivate girls to explore and create through coding at an early age. The hope is that they will continue pursuing technology and business throughout their education and consider it as a career, according to Smith.

“Code Girls United puts the power of business and computing in the hands of these young girls. You might say ‘we help young girls code their own future,’” Smith said.

Code Girls United will host the first Northwest Regional App Challenge May 11-12 at Flathead Valley Community College. Participants will present and demonstrate their final product to judges in a science fair-style format. Registration for the free two-day event is open to fourth- through eighth-graders from Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming and Canada. Scholarships will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place teams — $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000, respectively.

An upcoming fundraiser is scheduled March 19 at Flathead Lake Brewing Co., 116 Holt Drive in Bigfork, with a portion of drink sale proceeds going to Code Girls United.

For more information on Code Girls United, or to register for the Northwest Regional App Challenge, visit www.codegirlsunited.org or contact Smith via email at Marianne.Smith.CGU@gmail.com.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

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