Bahar Heravi Moussavi is the co-founder and executive director of The C.O.D.E. (Create Opportunities and Define Education) Initiative, a registered non-profit delivering a unique educational supplement to all youth. The organization has a special focus on “amplifying voices, building self-confidence and sparking passion in underserved youth,” particularly those identifying as neurodivergent and/or BIPOC.

Bahar Heravi Moussavi, Co-Founder and Executive Director, The C.O.D.E. Initiative

“C.O.D.E. was founded with a mission of giving youth equal and accessible opportunities so they can see if they enjoy the world of science and technology and how they would fit in it. Many neurodivergent individuals or individuals with learning diversity get turned away from STEM topics because it’s not taught in the most inclusive and tailored way,” said Moussavi, pointing out the school has developed a specialized curriculum and training for teachers to allow the students to really immerse themselves in the material and get familiarized.

“And then it wouldn’t be a daunting subject that they’ve never been introduced to before. They’re more likely to want to go and explore either post-secondary or work opportunities they see fit for themselves in the field.”

Last year, C.O.D.E. added an arts component to a number of the courses to appeal to a wider demographic. Dubbed STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) a couple of examples are Music x Python takes concepts such as datatypes, constants and loops and adds in elements of musical structure, scales and tempo, while Art with Java promotes programming in a visual and interactive context.

Some classes, including the aforementioned two, are conducted virtually where a child receives one-one-one tutoring. The summer camps are in-person, as are the school workshops held on-site either during or after regular school hours. Ages of applicants are typically between six and 17 years old.

Moussavi, who is neurodivergent herself, studied computer science, immunology and public health at UBC during her undergrad and returned to do a Master’s in educational psychology and special education. She said her and two friends, also UBC alumni and women of colour in STEM fields, started C.O.D.E. in 2017.

Click here to see the complete list of The C.O.D.E. Initiative’s offerings.