Karlie Kloss is a 'nerd' and loves it

Spending some quiet time with Karlie Kloss is rare. As she walked into a room in Apple's Fifth Avenue hallway and joked that she could finally take off her Britney Spears-style microphone earphones, the day's excited chatter could still be heard outside.

Kode With Klossy—Kloss’s free coding summer camp for young women, gender non-conforming, and transgender youth ages 13-18—just wrapped up its last summer camp in New York City. As is tradition at the end of each camp, scholars celebrate their accomplishments with a “Demo Day”—an event where campers present projects they’ve completed over the past two weeks.

The trio — Violet Monserate, 17, Chelsea Liu, 17, and Pari Aiyer, 16 — debuted a prototype of the “iRecycle” app they created as part of Kode With Klossy and Apple’s new artificial intelligence/machine learning project . Designed to promote proper recycling habits, iRecycle allows users to scan objects and identify whether they are recyclable in certain states. Sristi Panchu, 19, a camper in the app development program that teaches campers how to use Swift, Apple's newest programming language, shows how her father's visual impairment inspired her to create "Munch," a mobile app An app prototype that makes recipes more accessible to people. Disabled people.

With the photo session with Close approaching and the ice cream truck waiting for campers outside, one might have thought Close would take a day off from the crown of this landmark year. But the 30-year-old entrepreneur and supermodel is already looking to the future: "Today at 5 p.m., the last day of Summer Camp 2022 ends, but [the Kode With Klossy team and Apple] will soon be moving into a growth phase."

Provided by Apple.

It is this eagerness that has allowed Kode With Klossy to expand from a scholarship program for 21 scholars in 2015 to an international program that today encompasses 12,000 scholars in 99 countries. That's why Kloss has partnered with Apple for the past five years to provide cutting-edge programming education to their growing community. And, more than 65% of Kode With Klossy alumni are majoring in computer science or engineering (compared to 3% of women nationally), so it starts to make sense that Kloss is looking forward to the future more than most.

During a brief break between 2022 festivities and preparations for 2023, Bustle caught up with Kloss to discuss the social causes that inspire her, Kode With Klossy's latest collaboration with Apple, and the topics that have been weighing on her lately.

The recent Kode With Klossy Bootcamp at Apple Creative Studios showcased a number of academics developing prototypes of apps designed to create social impact. Which social causes do you think are currently particularly important for technological innovation?

For me, the cause I care about is just democratizing access to these spaces and tools. That’s what creative studios are really doing. We're not telling academics, "You have to build something that's driven by social impact." That's where their hearts are.

I recently attended a mobile app development camp where scholars were building apps that addressed the same kind of conversations—climate change, sexual harassment in the workplace or learning environment, as well as access to resources on mental health conversations, sustainability, and fashion.

These are themes I see all the time and I think they reflect the thinking of this generation. This was a project they built in two or three days. Imagine what they're going to do next. They are at a critical point in their lives. That's why I love that we get to them at this interesting time when they're so young.

Gen Z inherits many pressing social justice issues, [such as the climate crisis you just mentioned]. Have you witnessed your campers become stronger or more hopeful by having access to this new means of change through technology education?

no problem. Even in conversations around technology, many people, especially women, can be intimidated by the idea of ​​technology. I think there are a lot of abstract ideas about what it is and the people behind it. I understand how [scholars] might initially be intimidated by these conversations. But, by the end of [the program], they realize they've only scratched the surface, and they feel confident walking into those spaces.

It's not just a skill, but it's actually a kind of self-realization, knowing that you can, that you're worthy, that you're seen, and that you have a community that supports you.

The main focus of Kode With Klossy is to pave the way for more diversity in STEM fields. How do you think technology as we know it will get better as STEM fields become more diverse?

We all have different life experiences and we talk about that a lot at camp. We have a conversation called "Tech Culture" that we tailor to what they're learning.

Recently, I attended a data science camp and they were discussing data gaps and how data gaps impact bias in how research is conducted, how medical trials are conducted, and how technology is built. I deeply believe that we need a diversity of thought and life experience to inform the decisions that are building or guiding the algorithms—creating technology that touches all of our lives. Because if it has bias embedded in it, it manifests itself in multiple ways and doesn't serve us all equally.

I hope the first step is just awareness and conversation and these young people are making a difference. They are equipping themselves with the skills to enhance their ideas, draw from their life experiences, and truly solve problems at an age.

Have you learned any important lessons from the Kode With Klossy scholars?

So many things. One, I think a lot of our scholars are at a very vulnerable age as teenage girls or gender non-conforming teenagers in today's world. I've said it to them many times - but I actually feel like I've learned from them - is to have your own space, own your own power and have confidence in yourself. These things are clichés, but I see them taking on a power of their own, and it makes me, as an adult, want to stand taller and claim my own space.

You often say that you are a student of the world. Have you found yourself going down any new rabbit holes lately?

Good guy. I was just hanging out with a friend. We're going to take classes on economics and astronomy. I am fascinated by learning about space, the solar system, and the universe. I'm always asking questions. Over the past few years, I have also become more knowledgeable and engaged with economic mobility. I'm excited about the changing landscape here. I'm always pushing in different directions.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.