One Year Later | Youth Code Jam

We interviewed Debi Pfitzenmaier, last year’s big winner of Philanthropitch and founder of Youth Code Jam in San Antonio, TX


In a generation built on technology, giving our youth the necessary skills to succeed in the workforce becomes imperative, especially keeping in mind those with limited access to said technology. This is where Youth Code Jam comes in to play.

“When my son was about 10 years old, he wanted to learn to code,” said Debi Pfitzenmaier, founder of Youth Code Jam. “I looked for any opportunity, but only found an $800 per week summer camp. I decided then and there to create a space for him and others to learn.”

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Inspired by her son’s tenacity and dedication, Youth Code Jam was founded in 2010 under Debi. Eight years later, and still a relatively small nonprofit, Debi decided to apply for Philanthropitch. Through Philanthropitch participants like Debi engage in a number of workshops concerning their economic model, mission and scale, all while prepping for the pitch they will present on event day.

“Philanthropitch was transformational for us,” said Debi. “In addition to raised awareness which resulted in new connections, volunteers and donors, the process of preparing helped us better define who we wanted to be when we grew up, and how to get there.”

As an organization, Youth Code Jam benefited from Philanthropitch in a variety of ways. in addition to winning the overall prize of $50,000 to help grow their impact, Youth Code Jam has developed deeper relationships with local corporations and attracted new supporters. Debi, as the founder and as a leader was also greatly impacted by the event.

“The workshop helped lay the framework for how to put together a pitch and the mentoring provided the necessary feedback to ensure it was impactful,” said Debi. “I also watched a ton of Shark Tank and practiced nonstop for weeks on end.”

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In three words, Debi described Philanthropitch as “challenging, innovative work.”

“The experience made us think in different ways and caused my board and I to really evaluate how we do what we do through a new lens. We knew how we wanted to move forward,” said Debi.

For those wondering where Youth Code Jam is now, here is the update:

  • They have expanded their newest Jam to Austin, and will be in the Rio Grande Valley in April (2019)

  • In 2018, they kicked off their school-based jams concept that they presented (and won with) at Philanthropitch, which has allowed for:

    • The training of 38 schools in 21 cities on how to host their own Family Jams

    • Reaching another 4,000 students this school year, alone

For those looking to get involved in this cause, visit youthcodejam.org for more information.





Madi FinleyComment