Karlie Kloss Teaches Teenage Girls How to Code

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Valeria Torres-Olivares, 18, from Princeton, N.J., was first to speak. She was accepted to Princeton University, where she’ll major in computer science. The room erupted into cheers. She also talked about the coding class she started at the Princeton Public Library with her younger sister Kyara, 14, a fellow camper.

“We made it girls-only so our students would have an environment they feel safe in,” Ms. Torres-Olivares said. “When boys are in the classroom, it’s harder.”

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“They’re going to build the algorithms of our future because they have different life perspectives of the world,” Ms. Kloss said.

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George Etheredge for The New York Times

Another camper, Hope Dunner, 19, had completed a computer science internship at Microsoft. Victoria Johnston, 17, finished an internship at Viacom and now wants to use coding to pursue activism. “I’m creating a documentary series that combines fashion and personal stories, like what makes you different and unique,” Ms. Johnston said. “I’m also learning to come out of my shell.”

Ms. Kloss beamed. “This is so awesome, you guys.” she said.

A model of 11 years (she was discovered at a benefit fashion show in her hometown, St. Louis), Ms. Kloss became the face of brands including Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein and Versace. In her travels, she often found herself hobnobbing with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and realized how technology was transforming society.

“I remember I had met Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram, and I said, ‘You created a product that touches hundreds of millions of people,’” she said. “‘What do you know that these hundreds of millions of people don’t know?’ I wanted to understand that language and skill set.”

Ms. Kloss took a two-week class at the Flatiron School, a coding boot camp in Lower Manhattan where she learned to build web apps using the program Ruby. Ms. Kloss said she has always been fascinated by how things work. “I’ve always been interested in science and math,” she said. “That’s where I excelled as a student long before my modeling career.”

The next year, she started her coding scholarship program at the Flatiron School, which has since expanded to 50 camps in 25 cities, where 1,000 girls this summer can learn basic HTML/CSS, Ruby and JavaScript, virtual reality programs, gaming and even artificial intelligence.

“I love that they’re taking their experiences as 15-year-old girls in America and translating them into actual projects,” Ms. Kloss said. “They’re going to build the algorithms of our future because they have different life perspectives of the world.”

Ms. Kloss has a worldly perspective herself. A full-time model, she is on the road for much of the year. “Yesterday I woke up in Paris, and today I woke up in New York,” she said.

Her closest friends include Taylor Swift. They have vacationed together and have sat courtside at a New York Knicks game. Despite internet gossip suggesting otherwise, the pair continues to be good friends and they talk frequently. “Don’t believe everything you read,” Ms. Kloss said.

She is also close with Serena Williams. They sit on the board of Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that owns AOL, Yahoo and other digital content brands. “Serena is one of the most extraordinary women on the planet,” Ms. Kloss said. “She challenges the status quo in so many ways, and I learn from her constantly.”

What has people talking, however, is Ms. Kloss’s longtime boyfriend, Joshua Kushner, 32, a venture capitalist and a founder of the health insurance start-up Oscar Health. His older brother is Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to President Trump and the husband of Ivanka Trump.

Ms. Kloss refused to comment on her relationship. “My relationship has nothing to do with this interview,” she said.

But she has not been shy about sharing her political views on Instagram. She recently posted an image for March for Our Lives, a protest against gun violence planned by teenage survivors of a Florida high school shooting, as well as a photo from the 2018 Women’s March. On Election Day 2016, she posted a photo of herself voting with the hashtag #ImWithHer.

Joshua Kushner’s Instagram feed is less overtly political, but he reportedly donated $50,000 to March for Our Lives.

After the girls’ introductions, the campers made their way to a small room and assembled on a beige couch. They gathered to record a 45-second video, shot on a smartphone, to invite girls to apply for this summer’s camp.

“I have to do this type of stuff all the time, and I always get nervous,” Ms. Kloss said. “We’ll do as many takes as we need.”

The group did a few sequences, with each girl flubbing a line and breaking into nervous laughter. Ms. Kloss extended a swanlike arm to create the perfect selfie angle, and tapped record.

“You know that feeling when you’ve got all your girls by your side and you feel like anything’s possible?” Ms. Kloss said into her iPhone. “Well that’s me right now.”

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