Our mission is to build a global online community where kids build, code, play, and learn from one another. As a not-for-profit organization, we provide connected learning experiences – our “camps” – that foster creativity, problem solving, collaboration and interest-driven learning. To accomplish this, we tap the power of youth tech experts – our “counselors” – to teach and mentor. In turn, we provide our counselors with multi-year job experience and professional support. Through this system, we have served thousands of kids through our online and community-based programs.
Our approach is backed by lots of research and testing in practice, and is part of the Connected Learning Alliance, dedicated to mobilizing new technology in the service of equity, access and opportunity for all young people. By leveraging the power of open networks and partnering with community-based organizations, we are committed to delivering the highest quality online learning experiences to young people in all walks of life.
Committed to Excellent Play
We approach our work with professionalism and play in mind. Remember to have fun. We strive to be the best at what we do. Be exceptional.
Models and Mentors
Lead by example. Keep it kid-friendly. We set the bar for how to work responsibly with young people. Help others grow. Share knowledge and experience.
Think of the person behind the screen. Act with empathy. Value the importance of community. Inquire more, judge less. We meet each other as we are. We’re not perfect, we’re real.
We believe that feedback moves us forward. Our goal is to do better today than yesterday. Seek to learn from others. Know you don’t always have the answer. Build, test, iterate, repeat. Use data wisely.
We work together to set each other up for success. No one person or team is more valuable than others. We care more about working toward the same goal, than we do about our own interests. Be humble. We help one another without judgment.
Advocates for Belonging
We aim to create an environment of safety, support, and inclusion for all community members, from teammates to learners. Value all voices and embrace differences. We strive to reflect the community which we serve. We care about equitable solutions.
Hover or Click On A Staff To Hear Their Story!
Alexis is the Counselor Manager at Connected Camps. As a TFA alumni she has taught high school math for the past five years. She is currently pursuing an MA in Creative and Innovative Education and is excited to see that work in action at Connected Camps. Alexis is excited to join the team and to help support and develop young educators.
Briana is a Customer Support Specialist at Connected Camps. She helps review and respond to customer inquiries while taking the appropriate actions to resolve each issue. She has obtained her Associates from Eastern Florida State College and has customer service experience from previous support roles. Briana is excited to be apart of the Connected Camps team to help serve the large and growing community of kids and parents.
Cindy is the Design and Marketing Specialist. As a lifelong artist with interests in both design and customer satisfaction, her professional background includes many years of Customer Service and Graphic Design. When it comes to video games and entertainment, her adoration for excellent storytelling, characters, and designs is a constant inspiration for her. In joining Connected Camps, she is happy to find a space in which others are able to exercise their passion in video games – from the people she work with to the product and consumers.
Elissa is the Executive Administrator at Connected Camps, providing core support for the executive team. Elissa has a B.A. in English from Drew University. With a background in children's publishing, Elissa is passionate about creative engagement and excited to work with an organization that provides a unique and connected learning community for children. In her spare time, Elissa plays video game music on the violin.
Joseph is a Customer Support Specialist. He is pursuing a degree in Information Technology at California State University Channel Islands. While attending college, Joseph had the opportunity to mentor middle school children through the Boys & Girls Club. This opportunity helped Joseph learn that he truly enjoyed helping people and seeing positive interactions earn results. The passion for technology, video games, and helping people all came together to bring him to Connected Camps where he can continue to learn and help others solve problems.
Kelsey joins Connected Camps as a Customer Support Specialist. Kelsey has a BA in Marketing. Kelsey brings experience from Amazon and also works as an independent artist. Kelsey likes to draw and hopes to become an artist for comics or video games one day. Her favorite games include: Persona 5, Splatoon, Planet Zoo/Coaster, The Sims, Assassin's Creed, and Hitman.
Megan is the Assistant System Administrator for Connected Camps. Previously a Connected Camps counselor, she now works on the upkeep and configuration of the computer systems used in the programs at Connected Camps. Megan has a passion for technology and gaming, and wants to use that passion to positively impact the youth of today.
Matthew joined Connected Camps as a Product Manager, overseeing the development of current and new programs. He earned a B.S. in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.Ed. from UMSL. Prior to joining Connected Camps, Matthew served as a middle school math teacher through TFA. Alongside teaching, Matthew led elective courses in video game design and introductory programming, which is what initially drew him to Connected Camps' model.
Tyler is the Scheduling Assistant at Connected Camps. He recently graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science in Game Design. A friend of his and fellow employee, Josh Eckhart, introduced him to the company late last year, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience ever since!
Victor is the Technical and Communications Director for Connected Camps. He holds a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters in Business Administration from California State University, Northridge. Victor manages all the technical needs for the camp servers.
Mimi Ito, Co-Founder and Executive Director
Mimi is the Executive Director of Connected Camps and Director of the Connected Learning Lab at UC Irvine. She is a cultural anthropologist and learning scientist by training, whose work has focused on how online communities can support learning. Connected Camps has been an effort that has grown out of this research, and collaborations with the Connected Learning Research Network which Mimi helped lead for over a decade.
Katie Salen, Co-Founder and Chief Designer
Katie is the co-founder and Chief Designer of Connected Camps and also a Professor in the Informatics Department at UCI. Katie’s background mixes expertise in game design, learning, play, and youth development. Katie loves working with teams to design programs that have positive impacts on kids, preferably using games to do so!
Don Miller, Chief Operating Officer
Don is the Chief Operating Officer of Connected Camps. He has a background in finance, operations and strategy in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors. His passion for childhood education coupled with his experience helping organizations build the capacity to scale and advance their missions brought him to the Connected Camps team.
Barak Berkowitz, Board Member
Currently Director of Operations and Strategy at the MIT Media Lab, Executive Chairman of Digital Garage, and the CEO of MarketCentrix, a strategic consultancy. Barak previously served as CEO of Evi, a virtual personal assistant. Prior to Evi, Barak was Managing Director of Wolfram|Alpha, the award winning “Computational Knowledge Engine.”
Carina Wong, Board Member
Carina Wong is the Deputy Director and Senior Advisor for Innovation at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her portfolio includes investments that seek to dramatically accelerate student success and improve the quality of teaching and learning in public schools today. Carina has worked in education in a variety of roles at the national, state, and local levels for over twenty years. She is a mother of three young children and is currently a Deputy Director on the College Ready team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Janella Watson, Board Member
Janella Watson is an international speaker and educational consultant, with expertise in creativity, play and experiential learning. Drawing on more than 20 years of work as a researcher and practitioner in children’s museums and science centers, she is renowned for creating curriculum, media content, programs, exhibits and experiences that center equity and spark joy, learning and whole family engagement. Janella lives, works and plays in Providence, RI with her husband and her curious and kind kid.
Joichi Ito, Board Member
Joichi currently runs Neoteny and is the co-founder and a board member of Digital Garage. Previous boards he served include The New York Times Company, Sony Corporation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He served as director of the MIT Media Lab from 2011 to 2019.
Lili Cheng, Board Member
Lili Cheng is a Corporate Vice President of the Microsoft AI and Research division, responsible for the AI developer platform. Prior to Microsoft, Lili worked in Apple Computer’s Advanced Technology Group on the user interface research team where she focused on QuickTime Conferencing and QuickTime VR. Lili is also a registered architect, having worked in Tokyo and Los Angeles for Nihon Sekkei and Skidmore Owings and Merrill on commercial urban design and large-scale building projects. She has also taught at New York University and Harvard University.
Connected Camps thanks Reid Hoffman & Michelle Yee, Kaoru Hayashi, Joi Ito, Microsoft Research, the Samueli Foundation, and Siegel Family Endowment for their generous support.
As a nonprofit organization, Connected Camps, part of the Connected Learning Alliance, is a nonprofit that relies on generous contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, and public agencies.
Connected Camps’ indirect cost recovery rate for federal grants is 10%.