Ellis Wyms Empowers Youth Through Computer Science

Photo: The Wyms Foundation

Photo: The Wyms Foundation

Former NFL defensive tackle and 2003 Super Bowl champion Ellis Wyms has become a passionate advocate for empowering youth through computer science education. A Mississippi native and eight-year NFL veteran with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings, Wyms recently launched Athletes for Computer Science (AFCS), a program powered by the Wyms Foundation that inspires elementary school children to explore careers in computer science.

Considering only 40 percent of schools teach computer programming while computing jobs are the top source of new wages in the U.S., Wyms decided to create a program that provides educational opportunities and resources for children from underprivileged environments. With nearly every industry growing through technology and innovation, the goal of AFCS is to help the next generation of workers gain the skills needed to prepare for 21st century computing and information technology careers.

"I wanted to develop a program that could ultimately drive young people toward better career and economic opportunities, and could give them value in the new economy," states Wyms. "Today, we have the opportunity to take young people growing up in poor or poverty-stricken environments, and through access to the Internet and advancements in technology, connect them to opportunities that they may have never had before."

With the AFCS program, children learn from college and professional athletes and on-campus teachers who share their knowledge about science, technology, engineering and mathematics through online classes and video conferencing. In addition to Wyms who teaches many of the courses himself, AFCS’s community of athlete ambassadors includes fellow retired NFL players Warrick Dunn and Booger McFarland.

AFCS incorporates curriculum from Code.org, an existing STEM education platform designed to teach K-12 students computer science fundamentals and concepts. In its first year, AFCS has seen enrollment of 500 students who have written more than 100,000 lines of code. AFCS currently partners with nine elementary schools in four states, with plans to expand further and partner with league player associations, including the NFLPA, NBPA, MLBPA and NHLPA.

Stay up to date with Athletes for Computer Science!