Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."


Project #
Columbia University
  • Sahir Jaggi
  • Sang Jun Park
  • Vivian Shen


Seeking “to teach, empower and connect” young rural Filipinos by building their digital literacy skills, CodePhil 2017 targeted the nation’s fifth-poorest province, Northern Samar. The project team supplemented its Projects for Peace grant by bringing in additional support from Columbia, MIT and Dartmouth College. With a new curriculum in programming that centered on website development, CodePhil reached 150 high-schoolers in two towns. The students built a variety of websites, developing knowledge and skills in the foundational languages HTML, CSS and Javascript. The project team also delivered free textbooks, other teaching materials and software to the local high school.

“Our main challenge was the lack of electricity — there were many situations where we had to come up with solutions to spontaneous situations,” write Sahir Jaggi, Vivian Shen and Sang Jun Park. When the school lost power on their very first day of teaching, the team quickly improvised, delivering the lesson on a chalkboard instead.

CodePhil also staged a two-day Innovation Summit that drew more than 150 participants, from high-school and college students to tech recruiters to professionals. And the team developed and distributed a learn-to-type software they named TypePhil.

That software, write Sahir, Vivian and Sang, “is the backbone of CodePhil’s overall mission to democratize digital and computer literacy in rural Philippines. Typing skills are fundamental in enabling students to achieve other digital and computer skills, helping them gain opportunities for their future. We reached 1,000-plus students this summer alone, and have plans to exponentially expand in the coming year.”