Inspire Idaho Earns UEDA Award of Excellence
The statewide effort to bring free app development to individuals across Idaho receives national acclaim
A commitment to bringing experiential lifelong learning to individuals across the state has earned University of Idaho Coeur d'Alene the Award of Excellence from the University Economic Development Association (UEDA). The award, presented in the talent category, is in recognition of the app development initiative Inspire Idaho.
“This honor belongs to all the Inspire Idaho learners, volunteer mentors and experts spanning the state,” said Charles Buck, center executive officer and associate vice president for U of I Coeur d’Alene. “You’ve embraced this model, worked through a lot of kinks and brought your innovative ideas to the table.”
Inspire Idaho launched in 2018 through a collaboration with U of I, Innovation Collective and Apple Inc. By fall 2019, the program had 300 active participants in 11 cities around Idaho. The program offers app development education that’s free, self-paced and team-centered.
“The whole goal is to make sure learners are supported,” said Sandpoint team mentor Jim Hutten. “Like any new learning, this can be challenging so we have a team of mentors and experts who help keep people motivated and moving forward.”
By offering an introduction to coding at no cost, Inspire Idaho works to reduce barriers to education and provide skills training for the region’s increasing technology-centered economy.
“We’re trying to help the community in job skills development, and the Inspire curriculum is a really good fit,” said Amanda Ruff, Inspire Idaho learner and emerging tech coordinator for the East Bonner Country Library, where the local Inspire Idaho team meets. “We don’t have to create the course ourselves, but we can be a safe place to help people take that next step.”
The average software or app developer in Idaho earns over $87,000, more than double the state’s average wage.
This honor belongs to all the Inspire Idaho learners and mentors spanning the state. Charles Buck, U of I Coeur d’Alene AVP/CEO
“Coding is intimidating to most people, but we’re all using apps more and more in our daily lives,” said Buck. “So the focus with this curriculum is learning a language that’s designed not to launch a spaceship or run a fortune 500 company, but to create an app. That tangible deliverable really gets people excited.”
In addition to learning how to create an app, Inspire Idaho participants learn about design, usability and monetizing their new creation. A MacBook lending library and discounted rates on devices help to ensure accessibility to the equipment required to complete the curriculum.
Generous support from the Idaho STEM Action Center, the Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Central Credit Union and an anonymous private donor allowed the program to grow to nearly a dozen cities with 300 active learners in just over a year. An additional 500 Idaho residents have registered and await the opportunity to begin the program.
Published October 2019.