# Learn Code, Save the World

SkilStak is a unique co-learning space and community where members learn to code and create by doing projects they enjoy, together. Since 2013 we have helped hundreds of all ages, backgrounds, and aptitudes learn real skills improving opportunities for internships, college admission, entry-level tech careers, and just for fun. Content and community really do provide opportunity. Never before has there been a better time to empower yourself. Learn code, save the world.

Congratulations, you found us! We do very little advertising. Most find us through referrals. We like it that way. We value authenticity and simplicity (over marketing hype and page bling). We figure there are better ways to spend advertising dollars. In fact, we get downright metaphysical in our belief that people are led to us when the time is right. Is the time right for you?

## Winter Weekly Schedule

Prices

Here are our prices by level up front so you can decide if SkilStak is in your price range. We maintain a low overhead to maximize opportunity for as many as we can. PayPal does offer financing (independent of SkilStak) if that helps. Unless otherwise noted, prices are per Fall or Winter semester. A semester is 16, 90 minute weekly lab sessions.

¹Can be prorated allowing sign ups at any time. Summer also.

²Adults 18 and older have the option to pay $200 (month to month) instead.

³One three-hour (6-9pm) session. Some specific activities may be priced higher based on the cost of field trip transportation, entrance fees, and such.

Family and Multiple Signup Discounts. Either the same person signs up for more than one semester offering or one or more additional members of the same immediate family sign up.

What Do We Do?

The best way to understand what we do at SkilStak is to call or make an appointment to come talk about it personally. While online learning is valuable, we believe that learning happens best face-to-face, as it always has. But we'll start by saying we do two things really well:

1. Help others discover what they want to do.

The skills required by the industry are specific and not always obvious. SkilStak keeps current with industry needs and helps you match your strengths and interests to those needs. Then we help you learn it your way based on your learning style and pace. No more than 10 are ever in any single lab group.

2. Help them learn to do it.

Discere Faciendo. Learn by Doing. We help others learn programming and technology by doing stuff together, be it developing a Roblox world with Lua programming, making a game with Unreal Engine, creating interactive web apps and games, writing text adventures, soldering microelectronics and lightsabers, composing videos for YouTube, hacking a honeypot, or preparing to pass a professional Linux certification.

When members are able to demonstrate their skills and knowledge they can apply for a review interview to receive certificates to mark their achievement. While learning styles may differ, skills and jobs are specific. The certificate (and project work behind it) show what you know and have done.

One technologist (Jakob Borg) said it best when responding to the question “What should I do to create a portfolio as a junior programmer?”

Jakob Borg's Answer

Another investor turned philanthropist, obsessed with improving American schools, Ted Dintersmith, has this to say about what "innovative teachers" are having kids do across the country:

Kids are working on challenges they think are important. They’re developing essential skillsets and mindsets, and they’re being trusted to manage their own learning. When you ask them about things, they don’t give superficial responses. They really understand it because they’ve had to apply it, or they’ve had to teach other kids what they’ve learned. Edsurge.com interview by Tony Wan, What School Could Be—and What Education Investors Get Wrong

This is exactly the goal at SkilStak. In fact, members are required to help other members and have optional opportunities to intern as lab assistants as they share what they have learned.

Current and Relevant

Even though we focus most on the core concepts that do not change, we are small enough to change instantly as new technology emerges and becomes validated by the industry. A year is like ten in tech time. This puts members in a privileged position to spot significant technology waves forming, paddle fast to prepare for them, and ride them out when they crest. This skill of knowing what to know is a top priority, above any specific tech that we learn together.

Principles

Principles offerings are basic and designed for younger members who can type at least 10 words per minute. There is no age limit. Often a Principles lab will appear as its theme on the schedule, like Robolox Developer, Minecraft Engineer, Game Art and Mod, or Hack Me. These are just different flavors. All Principles labs involve coding and typing games together as well as structured learning toward the Technologist certificate. The emphasis is on fun learning in a non-intimidating way.

Anyone can register and start Principles at any time during a given semester (provided there is room).

💬 If SkilStak is not close to you, consider finding a Code Ninjas near by. From what we hear they are also doing amazing things for particularly young coders.

Essentials

Essentials is both a level and an offering. It is 100% focused on getting the Technologist certificate. There is no age limit but it does require 24 words per minute typing speed. Essentials has project time and additional skills are added including introduction to all the essential tools required to learn further programming, Linux, networking, and microelectronics engineering including modding basic games.

Like Principles, anyone can register for Essentials at any time during a given semester.

Fundamentals

Fundamentals is our main offering and the foundation upon which everything else is built. As such it is our highest priority designed to be simple enough for anyone who can type 24 words per minute but comprehensive enough to contain the same (or more) than an entry-level college course resulting in the Coder certificate.

Besides the standard Fundamentals labs, we also often some that are themed to keep things interesting and focused on creating fun stuff:

Themes change based on current popular interests to promote engagement but the skills and concepts remain focused on getting the dependent certificates for the Coder certificate. All of them include the Technologist material including a survey of technology origins, brief history of computing and the Internet, and the important role of women in modern and historic computer science (Lovelace, Hopper).

It is not uncommon for some members to remain at the Fundamentals level most of their time at SkilStak. But most should attain Coder after a year of weekly sessions plus 1-3 hours a week outside of lab. The amount of time depends entirely on the individual and usually has more to do with weekly time allocation and motivation than aptitude. There is never any homework assigned, but working on something daily is strongly recommended.

Proficiency

Proficiency level offerings are for those who have earned their Coder certificate. At this level we assume you know how to code. These labs offer structured deep-dives resulting in employable levels of proficiency. Obtaining SkilStak proficiency levels puts members in a solid position to apply for jobs in a specific areas of focus or to pursue further professional certifications. For example, a member receiving a Network Associate certificate should easily pass the CCNA exam.

Specialization

Specialization offerings come in many forms. Each is either one, two, or four months long and is 90 minutes to 3 hours long depending on setup times. Each has its own prerequisites listed in terms of certificates and modules. For example, a Rasperry Pi specialization focuses on assembling, configuring, and programming this microcomputer device. Earning the Rasperry Pi certificate module is one requirement that leads eventually to the Microelectronics Initiate certificate but not necessarily. The choice is up to you. Here are some you might find on the schedule:

💬 Upskillers tend to like the Specialization labs (in addition to their normal independent scheduling).

Upskilling

Upskilling is an offering created for adults 16 and older who want more control of their focus, time, and payments. We meet adults wherever they are and help them take it to the next level, whatever that means for that individual. It provides unlimited access to SkilStak and personalized mentoring to help create and follow an individual learning plan (IDP). The monthly $200 payment works better for adults.

Upskillers enjoy a free pass to anything on the schedule (provided there is a seat) as well as Upskill specific times just for them. Upskillers are particularly responsible for their own learning. SkilStak is here to help. We are good at helping Upskillers navigate the jungle of tech and learning resources out there, knowing what to learn and how. It has not been unusual for an Upskiller to spend up to six hours at a time here at SkilStak completely immersing in his or her targeted learning goals.

Special field trips to career fairs and tech conferences are also regularly scheduled for Upskillers. These events are always more fun as a group.

Field Trip

Here are some example of Upskillers:

Community

The SkilStak community is second to none. It is the biggest reason to join. Our members do amazing things—including leading or starting coding programs in local schools. Parents of members (who also contribute to the community and provide network opportunities) include several technical recruiters, chief executives in fortune 100 companies, educators, home-schoolers, engineers, project managers, and more. SkilStak members become hard-wired to pay it forward, as they say.

Our facilitators have all had more than five years profession experience in the field providing mentoring as well as education. Their educational background comes primarily from experience but also from industry training, certifications, and having taught at local colleges.

To foster and support our community we share a private Discord Chat server where our community helps one another, laughs together, shares their trials, and generally comes together. We even have our own opinionated chat bot (and a Summer Camp to help you make your own).

Our multi-user cloud Linux system (skilstak.sh) is exactly like those found at better technical universities—where members can collaborate on development and hone their command-line skills from anywhere in the world. We use only top-grade public key cryptography to grant access. Those under 13 can also host their source code in git repos.

Command Line Fundamentals SkilBot

On GitHub, members 13 and older contribute to each other’s projects in addition to their own, for SkilStak, or for the greater open source community. GitHub is the community for technologists (with heavy recruitment happening there).

For fun and learning, SkilStak hosts a private Minecraft server for community members to maintain and support together. More than one amazing technologist started out with Minecraft.

Every Saturday night from 6-9pm, SkilStak hosts activities for our community and those outside who want to join in for the night. Some are educational, some are pure fun, all are casual and designed for members to have digital recess together.

Upskiller field trips provide a fun way to attend career and tech conferences together.

Members independently organize outreach activities for others in their local communities including schools, churches, scout troops, and others.

Join Us

Anyone can join our community at any time. There is something for everyone. Please call or email if you have questions. Once we have met and established your best starting point (Principles, Coding Fundamentals, or Upskill) you need only send an email with the following in it:

  1. Offering and Time
  2. Full Name
  3. Birthday
  4. Emergency Contact Phone
  5. Gmail Address
  6. Other Considerations

SkilStak will send you a PayPal invoice that you can pay however you wish, including checks and cash (which are noted in the invoice). There is no registration system other than email and PayPal so that we can keep things easy and personal.

Prices will be prorated.

Availability of some offerings is limited based on space.

Nice Stuff About SkilStak

That’s it. You have read it all. The rest is just good ’ol honest fluff, from real people.

People have said some amazing, humbling, things about SkilStak over the years. Hopefully, if you haven’t already heard about SkilStak yourself from a friend this can help.

“Mur and I really, really believe in what Skilstak is about and what you are doing and have done for dozens of young boys and girls. Beyond the coding and the career preparation, Skilstak provides a ‘place‘ for them and gives them the courage to wear their nerd badges proudly. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the impact of Skilstak will last throughout their lives regardless of the trajectory each takes.” Mary Muchane

We Love Nerds!

“My son attended the Minecraft camp today and is hooked! He is registered for a coding class now every week! He just keeps thanking us for finding this ‘cool’ place! I highly recommend for kids who love technology and want to learn more!” Jennifer Miller

“I have enjoyed my time learning at Skilstak! My favorite thing is that we are always changing and learning the newest available material for web development. Most of my girl friends don’t like to talk about code, but it is because they don’t understand it. I have found other coding girls at Skilstak, I enjoy figuring out assignments together with them and also working at my own pace.” Bella T

Minecraft Tea

“Rob does a fantastic job of engaging and teaching the kids without them even knowing they‘re learning. :) We’ll be repeat customers every time my grandson comes for a visit!” Joni Dunn

“My son has been attending SkilStak for almost four years now. He started out in Code and Play and has progressed to Pro, gaining invaluable coding skills and knowledge every step of the way! In addition to classes, he has served as a TA or teacher’s assistant and aspires to be an instructor as his part-time job during his high school years. He has not only learned several coding languages, but has acquired a valuable work ethic and sense of community and active citizenship. I have no doubt, that he truly has discovered his lifelong passion and career path while attending classes at SkilStak. I am extremely grateful to Rob for providing my son with his incredible coding abilities and life skills, and more importantly, for serving as a mentor and positive male role model to an impressionable teenager! I would wholeheartedly recommend the SkilStak program as an extracurricular activity to any future coders and their parents!” Dena Miller

“Creatively Challenging Classes

Our quiet, unexcitable 11 year old son has been taking classes with Rob and his crew at Skilstak going on 3 1/2 years. These classes are a challenge that school can not provide. He says that they are just fun and he likes creating on the computer. But we see much more! We have seen him become more creative and analytical, confident, independent, and self-sufficient. Mr. Rob has opened his eyes to future job possibilities and the importance of professionalism and good character. As well as legitimate computer programming instruction. He can’t wait to go to the classes!

These classes are more than standard ‘summer camp’ computer classes. Students are expected to actually learn different languages and create programs. They will get certified at their own pace. And the classes are challenging. We highly recommend Skilstak to anyone wanting to do more than ‘play on a computer’”. Happy Mom, Sandy M.

On a Personal Note

I started SkilStak when the need became so pronounced to me that such a thing was needed, that real, hands-on tech education focused on actual skills of the workplace simply didn’t exist. My sons and scouts would often ask, “Mr. Rob, teach us to code, teach us to build a computer, teach us to hack!”

Nothing was available in 2013. Rather than complain about how bad things were, I decided to do something about it. I took some retirement out early to give it a shot. We have been at it ever since. It‘s definitely been bumpy along the path. Lots of mistakes, lots of learning. It would be easy to go back to a cushy corporate tech job, but I have no doubts or regrets that this has been the right thing to do.

We have explored many possibilities and recommendations over the years, including opening new locations, moving to a “better” location, franchising, and “vending” our services to other organizations. We’ve concluded the best option is to stay small and attract others to us, to help others learn and let them go out and influence others, in whatever role. This has been our best decision. To stay small, personal, and train others to share in their own way. Perhaps we can help you.

Since 2013 many more computer science clubs, programs—even companies—have surfaced and it has been great to watch. I’m very proud to say that many were directly influenced by SkilStak members and parents.

More that ever SkilStak is helping others lift where they stand as we literally save the world by providing better opportunities and communities all around.

To the many who have made SkilStak a reality (my wife and family in particular)—and to the many more to come—I thank you. (robs.io)

Mr. Rob Gnome