Courtesy of Code Haven

Since her first semester at Yale, Gillian Gold ’24 knew she had a passion for computer science that she was eager to share. That’s what led Gold to Code Haven.

Founded in 2016, Code Haven is an undergraduate organization that connects middle school students with Yalies interested in computer science. Throughout the school year, undergraduate members can be found in the virtual classroom teaching computing lessons to students across New Haven. The group switched to virtual teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the change has not deterred members from joining — approximately 80 undergraduate mentors currently work with Code Haven, teaching in 10 classrooms across five New Haven schools. In the fall term alone, mentors spent about 70 hours in the classrooms.

“I wanted to engage young students in New Haven in learning the many facets of computer science, while also belonging to the tight knit community of Code Haven,” Gold wrote to the News. “I was eager to share my enthusiasm for CS by leading as a role model for aspiring computer scientists, encouraging friendships, and supporting students through their exploration of technology.”

Starting as an outreach director from spring 2021 to fall 2022, Gold now serves as one of the co-presidents of Code Haven alongside Caroline Benedetti ’24. As co-president, she is eager to continue building the Code Haven community in Yale and New Haven. Gold said she hopes to not only build the organization itself, but also increase accessibility to computer science education in New Haven and beyond. 

For Gold, Code Haven has been one of her most meaningful experiences at Yale thus far. 

“I am constantly inspired by the diverse space made up of the students’ unique experiences, resulting in creative ideas, engaging relationships, and a place to share in the sheer excitement of coding,” Gold wrote.

Daphne Raskin ’25, a mentor for Code Haven, expressed similar sentiments. 

As a high school student, Raskin was not offered computer science classes, and consequently, she turned to programs similar to Code Haven. Through this programming, she was able to gain the coding knowledge and experience she has now. 

“I definitely benefited from similar programs like Code Haven during high school to learn about CS topics and gain coding skills!” Raskin wrote. “Now at Yale I am leaning towards majoring in CS, so I know how important these programs can be.” 

Code Haven recently hosted its annual TeachTech Conference on Feb. 12. Organized by the events team, this free conference works to help middle school teachers integrate computer science into their curriculums. 

According to Gold, while many teachers would like to teach computer science, they sometimes lack the resources required to do so. So the TeachTech conference strives to bring together teachers, administrators and educators from across the country to discuss computer science curriculums. According to Gold, around 25 educators attended this year’s conference. 

Mentors like Drew Beckmen ’24, a sports reporter for the News, believe that computer science education should be integrated into curriculums universally. Through Code Haven, Beckmen feels that he can interact with New Haven while also sharing his interest in computer science and education studies. 

“I’m a firm believer that computer science education should be a standard part of all primary and secondary education globally just like math and history,” Beckmen wrote in an email to the News. “CodeHaven shares that vision and allows me to work towards making it a reality.” 

Later this semester, Code Haven will host its annual Project Fair, giving middle school students an opportunity to present their coding projects from the semester. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with other students’ projects and listen to guest speakers who work in computer science. This year, the event will be held virtually.

Code Haven was founded by Annie Chen ’19 and Dennis Duan ’19.