The Computer Model: Karlie Kloss On The Road From Runway To Coding Camp – Forbes
Supermodel Karlie Kloss’ origin story isn’t that unusual: a Midwestern teenager in a local mall fashion show is plucked out of obscurity by a canny agent and whisked off to New York Fashion Week, becoming the next hot thing.
Her trajectory in the decade since, though, has been remarkable.
Not only has Kloss appeared on the cover of various editions of Vogue 36 times, but she’s using her platform to advocate for the inclusion of women and girls in STEM through her Kode With Klossy nonprofit.
The 25-year-old told a capacity audience at Forbes’ Under 30 Summit in Boston that she never planned for a career in fashion; her father, in fact, is an ER doctor. “I thought that would be my path,” she said.
Naturally competitive — especially so as one of four sisters, she said — Kloss became fascinated by coding as the “secret language” of STEM. She wanted in.
“What is it that these tech entrepreneurs know, these guys in Silicon Valley, these amazing businesses being built…what is this secret language?” she said. “Maybe I can take a stab at it. It’s a language, right?”
The Kode With Klossy program began in 2015 with 21 scholarships for teenage girls to coding camp; the supermodel underwrote that first iteration herself. The following summer, Kode With Klossy offered 75 scholarships to camps in New York, Los Angeles, and of course the model’s hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.
Over the course of the two weeks, the girls learn coding language Ruby on Rails, take classes and work on projects, having some fun along the way with their fellow 13- to 18-year-olds.
“Code is something that’s abstract,” Kloss said. “It’s kind of dry to learn. You want to learn it in an engaging way.”
By this summer of 2017, Kloss was able to offer over 300 girls scholarships — this time with the backing of Ford STEAM, the auto giant’s education program.
So far, she’s seen some of her girls go on to gain entrance to Ivy League universities and win hackathons with big-money prizes.
“It’s exciting,” Kloss said. “I really want to keep growing it. I love being a part of these girls’ journeys.”